New on DVD: The Devil’s Tomb

Henry Rollins appeals to the fringe crowd; Ron Perlman draws in the fanboys; Bill Moseley attracts the horror enthusiasts; Zack Ward provides the humour; Taryn Manning is the veiled eye candy; and Cuba Gooding Jr. is supposed to bring the credibility. The question is: on to what movie did these actors think they were signing?

Something has gone awry at an underground government archaeological project in the Middle East. A special military unit, led by Captain Mack (Gooding Jr.), has been dispatched on a search and rescue mission. Tragically, their debrief has not been one of full disclosure and they are unaware of some pertinent facts that threaten their objective – find and extract Dr. Lee Wesley (Perlman). As their task becomes complicated by the unexpected and unexplainable, it becomes clear they are not only ones with a mission to accomplish.

The Devil’s Tomb had some of the makings of a cult movie, but it just fails to deliver. Rollins plays a scared priest that pops up a couple of times in the narrative to deliver ominous foreshadowing and important information. Perlman’s role is even smaller and less impressive, appearing in the last act as the key to everything. And Gooding Jr. does not leave much of an impression at all. Fortunately, Ward delivers on the comedy front and Moseley is superbly deranged.

There are numerous flashbacks to a single moment in Mack’s past but it always restarts from the same place and only advances by small increments each time it interrupts the narrative; there’s also no indication why this incident is of any significance – it’s quite irritating. The finale’s twist is somewhat unexpected but still fails to provide any real oomph to the film. On the other hand, the body mutilation special effects look oozy and disgusting (i.e. good).

The special features include commentary with director Jason Connery (Sean Connery’s son) and Gooding Jr., which is fairly dry; six alternate scenes that add little to the feature; less entertaining outtakes; and a 16-minute behind-the-scenes featurette, in which Connery explains he wanted a character-driven film rather than a straight-up horror flick – maybe he should have leaned a little more towards the horror than the character.

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