Something lies beneath the desert and Mack's (Cuba Gooding Jr.) team of elite soldiers must defeat it and rescue one of the scientists presumably trapped there. But what exactly did the team of scientists and priests uncover? And will anyone survive?
The Devil's Tomb is one part horror thriller, one part religious cautionary tale, and one part zombie flick. Throw in some gunfire and explosions, and you have a bizarre mix of genres that, in this case, don't quite work together. This movie falls squarely into C-movie territory, so why did a good cast agree to make it?
As far as the story goes, a long time ago a group of angels fell to Earth and caused trouble among the natives. A vengeful God imprisoned them in the ground to avoid further issues. Step forward 2,000 years to a group of priests dedicated to destroying the angels so their evil cannot escape and cause world devastation.
Personally, I think eliminating evil is a good goal. Tough to achieve, yet noble nonetheless. But Wesley's (Ron Perlman) team, members of this secret group of priests, runs into complications. When communications are lost after a series of earthquakes, the military sends in a crack military team led by Mack (Gooding Jr.). Mack's team includes Click (Brandon Fobbs), Doc (Taryn Manning), Hammer (Frankie G), Nickels (Zack Ward), Hicks (Jason London) and Yoshi (Stephanie Jacobsen) are ordered to accompany Dr. Elissa Cardell (Valerie Cruz) to the site to rescue her father, Wesley (Perlman).
Is Mack's team more successful than the Wesley's? Nope. However, they do meet Wesley and Father Fulton (Henry Rollins) in the complex beneath the desert and do their best to meet an enemy they've never before encountered.
Throughout the movie, Mack is troubled by the memory of an event from an earlier mission. In flashbacks, the team is shown being attacked and trying to evacuate a wounded team member. Another member is down and Blakely (Ray Winstone), Mack's superior officer, takes something from a fallen comrade. In the final scenes of the movie, we see the full flashback and learn why the memory haunts Mack.
The movie raises several interesting questions for me:
1) How much does fake blood and guts cost? I think this film went way over budget in this area.
2) How do you get from "angel" to "communicable disease?" Let me clarify this a bit. When someone is infected by the evil of the fallen angel, that person in turn becomes evil themselves and can spread some sort of evil disease (complete with nasty boils and black vomit) to others.
For example, one team member begins to see the ghost of a child she never had and another member is tempted by a naked woman straight out of the pages of Playboy. The visions are used by infected people to lure victims into a trap, where they are either killed or are themselves infected with evil. The whole evil sickness scenario seemed a bit off for me, including the behavior of some of the infected.
3) And finally, what did they offer Cuba Gooding Jr. to do this movie? He's won an Academy Award for heaven's sake!
If you're bored and interested in religious-themed movies with a zombie-like plot, I'd encourage you to rent The Devil's Tomb at your local video store. However, there are many better movies with these themes available. Check out Fallen with Denzel Washington or 28 Days Later for example.
The DVD features several extras, including a commentary track with director Jason Connery, and Cuba Gooding Jr. Six alternate versions of several scenes in the film are provided, including Mack's flashback, the initial meeting between Dr. Cardell and Mack's team, and others. None of the variants add much to the scenes that made the final cut. "Mack's Flashback #2" adds a kid to the flashback scene, which made very little sense to me. Possibly, the kid is trying to control Mack to make him shoot his commanding officer, Blakely, but it is unclear.
Also included are several outtakes and a featurette – "Beneath the Desert: Behind the Scenes of The Devil's Tomb". The outtakes mainly show actors banging their heads on low-hanging pipes, forgetting their lines, dropping things, etc., none of which are really funny in my book. The featurette providesa forum for screenwriter Keith Kjornes, director Connery, and the cast to discuss how the story came to life and how the film took shape. They all seemed to have a good time filming the movie.
Ultimately, The Devil's Tomb might fill a lazy Saturday afternoon. But if you're looking for a good horror film, I'd look elsewhere.