Spanish title: La cueva
Director: Alfredo Montero
Produced by Juan Gordon, Alfredo Montero and Marcos Ortiz for Filmax International, Morena Films
Story and screenplay: Javier Gullón, Alfredo Montero
Music: Carlos Goñi
Cinematographer: Alfredo Montero
Editor: Alfredo Montero, Nacho Ruiz Capillas
Art director: Vicente Cardona Tur
Cast: Marta Castellote (Celia), Xoel Fernández (Carlos), Eva García-Vacas (Begoña), Marcos Ortiz (Jaco), Jorge Páez (Iván)
Spanish takings: €163.041,91
Spanish spectators: 28,573
Five twentysomething friends from Madrid go on a last-minute holiday to one of the smaller Balearic islands. There’s the sensible girl (Marta Castellote), the lovesick girl (Eva García-Vacas), the guy who’s good with women (Jorge Páez), the guy who isn’t good with women (Marcos Ortiz) and the quiet cameraman (Xoel Fernández). After spending the requisite amount of time hiking to a remote location, setting up their camp, getting drunk, lighting their farts and so on, they discover a cave and decide to check it out. It turns out to be much, much bigger than they thought and, by the time they begin to realise that going in without marking their way might have been a bit of a dumb decision, they’re hopelessly lost. Before long they’re out of food and water, their torch batteries are running out and every attempt they make to find the exit only seems to drive them deeper underground.
Anyone fancy a found footage film with a bunch of idiot youths as the protagonists? No, I didn’t think so. But give In Darkness We Fall (which is, when you boil it down, just that) a chance. It might not be the best film ever made but it’s certainly a solid, gripping affair which is made with some skill and manages to be way, way better than it should be. I wouldn’t, however, recommend it to anyone of a claustrophobic disposition as this – more than the any of the numerous other ‘cave’ based horror films such as The Descent, The Cave, The Cavern, Alien 2 On Earth, etc. etc – really conveys the terror of being stuck underground, where it’s tight, hot, pressing, full of sharp bits of rock and very, very dark.
It also takes a slightly different approach to other ‘cave’ movies by excising monsters from narrative and making the central point that we – humans – are the things to watch out for when the going gets tough. There’s an element of the Sawney Bean myth to it all (as well as numerous similar legends from around the world) and the rapid devolution from civilised to animalistic behaviour is well depicted. There are a couple of plot developments, though, which would have been much more intersting if tackled differently. For one thing, I’m starting to find the easy devision between males (bad) and girls (good or victims) a bit tedious, and the way that all the male characters end up doing bad things while the main female protagonist is sensible, caring and decent throughout is too simplistic. How much more interesting would it have been, for instance, if she too had ended up resorting to some of the same behaviour as the other characters and was left having to live with the consequences? Similarly, the establishment of one of the male characters as an antagonist, someone who’s all to happy to embrace their inner cannibal, is rather obvious. That apart, though, it’s an effective film and made with a sure hand, featuring excellent underground cinematography from Alfredo Montero, who also directs it all with some composure as well.
Review by Matt Blake, 2017
What the critics said
“A slickly made and very chilling horror-thriller, Alfredo Montero’s tense and elegantly nasty In Darkness We Fall may well be rather familiar fare – using that old faithful, the ‘found footage’ style of shooting – but it succeeds in keeping the tension at a pretty high level.” Mark Adams, Screen Daily.
“[In Darkness We Fall] resembles a mashup of Blair Witch without the woods, Neil Marshall’s The Descent without the back story, and Lord of the Flies without the existentialism. Pretty much everything apart from the suspense and the shocks has been stripped away, leaving Fall a well-made, sharply-focused and somewhat schlocky B-movie with potential cult appeal for horror purists.” Jonathan Holland, Hollywood Reporter.
“”Filming there was unsettling and exhausting. A real suffering. Ángel Sala, the director of Sitges, trusted us and included it in the Panorama section. The second most important competition. We worked fast and finished the sound so that I could go to the festival. There it was discovered by Juan Gordon, from Morena Films, who liked it, and he suggested we should shoot new material and improve some aspects of the film. The co-producer and actor Marcos Ortiz and I wanted to die! [Having to] go back to that cave again… Very few of us went in the cave. I carried the camera… because there was little light, only that of the torches and the lanterns of the actors. The assistant director had to be hiding all the time and the sound recordist had the worst time because he was the tallest.”” Alfredo Montero, Vice.com.
“For me, it was a blow to accept that I had to go back to the cave to do re-shoots. I did not want to accept it and it messed me up a lot. I’m not a film director. I have a family, a job and this film was shot on my vacations, I made it when I could. To go back to find the energy and time I had spent all over again was criminal. It was not about making a more commercial film, but about making a better film. The 80 minutes that were seen in Sitges were compressed to 40 and we shot 40 minutes more. This enabled us to present out characters better, with better interaction between them, more frightsand better action scenes. For example, the prologue and the ending are new, and the underwater scene as well. The film is the same but much better thanks to the work we did.” Alfredo Montero: Escribí el guión de La cueva dentro de la gruta, ABC.es.