Out Now On-Demand

An action-thriller, executive produced by James Cameron (Avatar), following an underwater cave diving team on an expedition to the least accessible cave system on Earth. When a tropical storm forces the divers deep into the caverns, they fight raging water, deadly terrain and creeping panic as they search for an unknown escape route to the sea.

Master diver Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh) has explored the South Pacific's Esa-ala Caves for months. But when his exit is cut off in a flash flood, Frank's team, including 17-year-old son Josh and financier Carl Hurley (Ioan Gruffudd), are forced to radically alter plans. With dwindling supplies, the crew navigate an underwater labyrinth to make it out.

Directed by


  • James Cameron('The Terminator', 'Aliens', 'The Abyss', 'True Lies', 'Titanic')

Action, Adventure, Drama, Thriller


Rating: M contains violence and offensive language

USA, Australia

Official Site

You have to be a little leery of a movie that’s major selling point is the executive producer – essentially the guy who ponies up the cash – even if it is James Cameron. The opening stanzas here do nothing to alleviate those fears – the dialogue is terrible, clumsily setting up the father-son relationship that becomes the heart of the story and missing the mark at its attempts at Aussie larrikin humour.

Once events inevitably start going wrong, though, business picks up. For the best part, the actors shut their mouths and the story becomes far more action based. The giant cave becomes quite the surreal setting, enhanced by the low-key lighting of head mounted torches and underwater photography, while the diving gear is treated in a way that gives the costumes a vaguely sci-fi feel. It makes for an interesting aesthetic in which to play out an escape storyline with horror overtones. There’s a brutally pragmatic logic at work in the name of survival, which makes for some jarring death scenes.

It’s just a pity you have to wade through so much introductory garbage to get to the good bits. It’s not often you’ll see this recommended in a film review, but if you turn up half an hour late this will probably leave a much better impression.

Chicago Sun-Times (Roger Ebert)


Sanctum tells the story of a terrifying adventure in an incompetent way. Some of it is exciting, the ending is involving, and all of it is a poster child for the horrors of 3-D used badly.

Christchurch Press (Margaret Agnew)


Schlock horror and bad dialogue mar 3D caving drama, says our reviewer

Empire (UK)


Workmanlike suspenser, with plenty of cold water but sparse chills. When it comes to James Cameron scuba thrillers, "The Abyss" still has the edge.

Hollywood Reporter


Banal dialogue, over-modulated performances and melodramatic scoring combine forces to sink the stirringly photographed proceedings quicker than that treacherous flash flood.

New York Times


The director Alister Grierson, not grasping that bad dialogue is sometimes best delivered quietly, encourages his actors to shout and thrash about, and so they do, like fish out of water and performers out of their depth.

Total Film (UK)


Despite having characters as shallow as its caves are bottomless and a plot as predictable as 127 Hours, this suspenseful actioner delivers seat-edge thrills in accomplished goggle-vision.

Variety (USA)


The key to enjoying Sanctum is to look, not listen.