The Only Way Out Is Down: Sanctum

The Only Way Out Is Down: Sanctum

Static Mass Rating: 3/5
SANCTUM (Blu-ray)
Universal Pictures 

Release date: June 13th 2011
Certificate (UK): 15
Running time: 109 minutes

Director: Alister Grierson
Producer: James Cameron, Ben Browning, Ryan Kavanaugh, Michael Maher, Peter Rawlinson, Andrew Wight

Cast: Richard Roxburgh, Rhys Wakefield, Alice Parkinson, Dan Wyllie, Christopher Baker, Allison Cratchley, John Garvin, Sean Dennehy

It’s not that I’m terribly opposed to heights and confined spaces, it’s just that when I find myself faced with them I have the almost irrepressible urge to hurl myself forward or scream like a banshee. Suffice to say, I wouldn’t be good company for any of the characters in Sanctum.

“What could possibly go wrong diving in caves?” one of them asks in this film directed by Alister Grierson.


What can go wrong indeed! The story, based on real events, is about a team of divers exploring the world’s largest and most remote cave system in the South Pacific when out of nowhere, a storm breaks.

As they’re forced to go deeper into the caves after the exit is sealed off, the strained relationship between veteran diver Frank McGuire (Richard Roxburgh) and his teenage son Josh (Rhys Wakefield) becomes the focus. The only way out is to manoeuvre their way through previously unexplored routes to find their way back to the surface. In doing so, father and son begin to bond; relying on each other’s skills, judgements and company as the other members of the team go insane and perish one by one.


  • Deleted Scenes (9.23)
  • Sanctum: The Real Story (46.31)
  • Nullarbor Dreaming (44.53)
  • Feature Commentary

Although it doesn’t avoid clichés, the real reason to see this movie is because of the impressive cinematography and the depths that Sanctum takes us to.

Filmed with the Cameron-Pace Fusion camera system developed for Avatar (2009), the caves are visually stunning and there are moments when the scale of these passages makes you realise what little creatures we are. It looks great on Blu-ray especially with that glowing aquatic blue. you won’t miss out on watching it in 2D though.


There’s a good selection of deleted scenes and other material included on this disc. Sanctum: The Real Story is lengthy feature divided into three parts; How It Began, Making The Movie and In The Aftermath.

In it, James Cameron talks about Sanctum being a physiological drama about survival that most people had never seen before. Cast and crew also share their insight and talk about their experiences while making the movie. Also included is the 1989 Australian documentary, Nullarbor Dreaming, where a team of divers set out to explore the subterranean waters of Pannikin Plain Cave below the Nullarbor desert. The backstory of this documentary served as inpisiration for Sanctum.

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