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Reporter ROSS has seen it all, but the ancient paintings within the Kimberly Cave in the Australian Western Desert leave him awed. Aboriginal elder, ALBERT, explains the painted figures with haloed heads sans mouths. These are the Wandjina. The rain gods whose dying spirits left their images on the cave walls and then entered a waterhole to return to their world. Every generation repaints, “refreshes”, the images of these spirit gods out of respect… but Albert offers Ross the opportunity to see older paintings deep in the cave that have never been retouched. A trick of the light causes cameraman DAVE to run, but Albert is more disturbed to find the older paintings inexplicably gone. The light goes out, Albert runs away and in the darkness Ross screams. The fallen camera catches a glimpse of a huge lizard, just before the camera is crushed. Dropped off by a limo driver, the dark-skinned MAYA (late 20s) has the kind of camping gear only the rich can afford. A van picks her up, filled with her old high school friends for a four day camping trip: ponytailed lawyer MARCUS; Barbie doll MARCY; crew cut war-vet JAKE; and insular, nature-loving JOHNO. She and Johno have history, which he’d rather forget. Marcus is jealous anyway. En route, the friends mercilessly rib each other, particularly Marcus and Johno who seem friends in name only. A jokey singalong to “The Final Countdown” bonds the group again, but storm-clouds loom on the horizon in a way Johno finds surreal. Lightning nearly strikes the van which veers off the road. At the National Park, as the group hikes across the desert, torrential rain finally hits; another blast of lightning sends even Maya racing off into the bush. Maya finds shelter; a dark, vast cavern. Although the others find the cave too creepy, the downpour keeps them put and Maya and Johno go exploring. Deeper in the cave, the duo discovers Wandjina paintings and a waterhole that mysteriously bubbles. Maya is agog. It was paintings of the “sky people” that led her to pursue a career as an anthropologist. Johno sees her anew. The images look new, but natives wouldn’t paint them because that would “anger the spirits”, leading to floods and disaster, according to their beliefs. All the same, the cave is speaking to some part of Maya she’d almost forgotten. That night, Maya is awakened by a scratching noise. Investigating, she’s surrounded by Aborigine warriors whose leader runs her through with a spear. Maya bolts awake, haunted by the dream. Unnerved by her story, others want to leave, but for Maya the cave is an anthropologist’s dream. Freaked, Jake runs outside and vanishes... Some time later, native Ranger MURRUNDINDI shows up, offering to lead the group back to their car in the morning. Maya is stunned. Murrundindi is the same man who stabbed her in her dream… Maya and Murrundindi quickly bond, after Maya explains that her mother was Aborigine too. When she shows him the waterhole and paintings, Murrundindi goes pale. He warns her that neither the paintings nor Maya’s friends should be here. The water ripples and a massive egg surfaces. They return to the others with the ranger’s warning. Marcus is freaked by Jake’s disappearance and even Johno has been sensing a “presence.” Murrundindi explains that the Wandjina see into your soul and bring out its truest form. Marcus scoffs at this new age crap, but still wants out. But another night of torrential rain makes this impossible. When Murrundindi disappears in the night, Johno searches the cave for him. Meanwhile, a panicked Marcia wakes up and is suddenly choked out by two black hands. She wakes up inside a coffin, terrified. In the morning, Marcus recoils from a horrible smell and Johno shows them the cracked open egg. Whatever was in it has escaped. Marcus finds Marcia dead in her sleeping bag. Everyone panics, but Murrundindi carefully examines her body. He assumes she strangled in her sleep from an overtight cord on the sleeping bag. Marcus believes someone murdered her and suspects Murrundindi. After Murrundindi leaves to get help, Johno agrees with Marcus that the ranger is suspect; he was missing in the night. The ranger returns with ominous news; flood waters have washed out the bridge. They are trapped here another night. The others grieve for Marcia, but Marcus is worried about number one. He asks to see Murrundindi’s ranger badge, but he claims it’s in his truck. Fed up, Marcus runs out into the storm. Murrundindi asks Maya about her nightmare and suggests that the spirits were “initiating” her into their circle. Maya suddenly remembers her childhood dreams of helpful “spirits” and realizes this was meant to be. Murrundindi claims, according to native lore, that the Wandjina came from the stars, through portals – wormholes – like the one in the waterhole. Although a new age guy himself, Johno finds all of this hard to believe. But for Maya, it’s an awakening. Aliens are calling to her, since she never felt she belonged. Marcus returns, having found another way to cross the river. Panicked, Murrundindi attempts to make them stay. Marcus declares that the unseen monster is killing them through their fears: Marcia was terrified of being smothered alive, and she wound up strangled; war-scarred Jake was afraid of chaos and he ran away when the situation became chaotic. Marcus angrily vows to escape and come back to destroy the place. When Maya emotionally pleads for the cave’s importance, Marcus questions her own innocence. Marcus skewers Johno by pointing out that Maya never explained why she dumped him. Maya brokenly explains she didn’t want Johno to see her “like that.” To protect themselves, Maya suggests they openly declare their fears; she fears not knowing who she is. Marcus refuses… and a giant lizard pulls him into the waterhole. The other three race to save him. Murrundindi dives in, only to be blasted out of the water and pinned to ceiling, cut to pieces. Johno runs out but Maya sadly watches Murrundindi die; wishing she’d ever known such peace. When Maya notices her Mickey Mouse watch is broken, it's the last straw and she confronts the monster. She nows it will kill her but she no longer cares. She just wants to know why. In the end her tirade exhausts her and she collapses by the waterhole. Maya wakes up later and stumbles out of the cave… to find Johno and a small army of cops and medics looking for her. The ragged Maya asks about Marcus and Murrundindi and Johno is mystified. Marcus is back home and Maya got lost days ago in the bush after the lightning struck nearby. Maya yells that the Wandjina will kill them all, and the officers are forced to restrain the unbalanced woman. Maya is returned “home” to the mental hospital where the real Murrundindi is actually her psychiatrist. In the mirror, Maya sees a Wandjina staring back at her and fears for her own sanity. In reality, she was sent here for attacking Johno long ago; the real reason for their “break-up”. The mirror Wandjina assures her she is not crazy but awake. Only she sees the truth. The TV news tells of reporter Ross’s murdered body and Maya finds something in her backpack. A massive, smooth egg, shivering with life…
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