Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Cave Ending Explained

The 2005 horror thriller "The Cave" is a wicked little romp, an enjoyably creepy monster movie where a group of intrepid explorers is stalked by hideous monsters in cavernous depths deep underground. Released in August of 2005, "The Cave" makes for an entertaining thrill ride, and one with a particularly wicked ending to boot.

"The Cave" begins with a flashback to a group of explorers unearthing a cave complex beneath a church in the Carpathian Mountains, one soon buried under a landslide with the entire party lost deep beneath the surface. Years later, an expedition is mounted by a team of researchers led by Dr. Nicolai (Marcel Iures) and his assistant Dr. Katheryn Jennings (future "Game of Thrones" alum Lena Headey), and they eventually find a means of entry to the buried church through an underground river. Hiring a team of divers, the team ventures deep into the Earth and soon finds themselves stalked by underground creatures living in the depths. As they seek to find a way out, they soon learn that the monsters aren't the only thing they might have to watch out for, but something much, much worse that could doom them all.

A happy ending with a sharp turn

 As the team explores, we learn that there is a strange parasite native to the underground ecosystem of the caves, one that transformed the original survey team into the very monsters attacking the current expedition. 

In the film's final scene, two of the three remaining survivors — Katheryn and diver Tyler McCallister (Eddie Cibrian) — share a quiet moment after their return to civilization. Tyler wonders if his brother Jack (Cole Hauser), who sacrificed himself so they could escape, might still be alive down there, while Katheryn says that she initially thought the parasite was native to the underground caves and couldn't survive outside of them. Now she believes that isn't true, and that the parasite wanted to get out. She leans in to kiss Tyler on the cheek, and as she does so, we can see past her sunglasses and learn she has the same telltale warping of the irises that Jack had during his infection. Katheryn walks off into the crowded city streets with Tyler giving chase, but he loses her in the throng, helpless in the knowledge that not only is she infected but will likely infect others as well.

Potentially the end of the world

The monsters of "The Cave" (shown above) are inhumanly strong, winged beasts that can kill a man with ease, and they're decidedly tough to kill in a one-on-one confrontation. They make short work of the explorers as they fight to survive, and it's clear that if they get out into the world, that could lead to a world-ending disaster that would likely bring about the fall of civilization. The revelation that Katheryn is infected comes completely out of left-field, as she's been one of the viewpoint characters that we bonded with over the course of the film from the beginning through to the film's harrowing finale. 

Not only is she one of the infected, but Katheryn is aware of her condition and seemingly determined to spread the parasite to others. Irises aside, she also doesn't have the physical mutations and light sensitivity found in other infected creatures. That, as well as the perception that she's clearly intent on infecting more people and transforming them into monsters, ends the film on a near-perfect note of dread.

"The Cave" is a truly enjoyable piece of cinema that more than earned its cult-movie status. It allows for some scares, some action, and has a delightful twist ending that leaves the viewer squirming in their seat. It's a ghoulishly good time, and well worth a spin for October viewing.