The Descent review
Plot:An all-female caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped by a rockslide and ultimately pursued by a vicious nocturnal breed of predator.
Natalie Jackson Mendoza,
My thoughts:Damn good movie.
Review:It's interesting that this movie gets released in the UK close to the time when Sony Screen Gems is about to release their cave exploration gone wrong horror pic "The Cave".However after seeing "The Descent", I think it's already won the battle between the two for best movie.I could be wrong but I doubt it. In this movie, we meet an all female group of adventurers.They love to do guy things together suich as rafting and caving. When an unfortunate *Final Destination-ish* accident kills the main character Sarahs husband and her daughter she struggles to piece back together her life.Much later,one of her friends named Juno(we later find out that shes not as much of a friend as at first thought) played by Natalie Jackson Mendoza decides to take her and a few other women on a caving expedition as sort of a bonding experience.This movie works because it takes place inside this awesome cave system with great visuals and nice camerawork giving the viewer a great look at every crevice and crack inside the cave.If you have claustrophobia this movie will get to you in alot of scenes. I don't have it and there was one scene which takes place inside the cave where it was hard for me to imagine being in the shoes of the character who was in peril.The first half of the film doesn't give us any indication that it's a horror movie at all as it's basically spent with the group exploring the cave and alot of dialogue between the characters.So when do things get scary here? When a rockslide occurs and blocks the exit to the cave it basically screws up the groups plan to leave the same way they came in.Thus they now have to find another way out but theres a problem.Juno reveals that the cave they're in is a new one and therefore their map of the structure is pretty much useless so they now must search for a way out with no predetermined destination and nothing at their disposal but their rock climbing gear and flashlights. It's a few scenes later when were given our first slight that theres something inside the cave with them. What I liked about this film is that the creatures aren't given away too early too much.We never really see or hear them fully until late in the second half of the film.Where this normally wouldn't work for a film like "Anacondas",it works for "The Descent" because Neil Marshall does a good job of creating tension and suspense using the characters and the situation they're now involved in,stuck in this cave with seemingly no way out.Add to that the side effects of being in a deep cavern too long such as paranoia,loss of oxygen etc.Because of those things,this movie never gets boring even though the creatures don't make a full appearance until late in the film.We get our first shot of the creatures when one of the characters flashes her flashlight on one of them before it quickly zips away.The creatures in this film are similar to the reapers from "Blade 2".Just a bit quicker and totally blind as they use sound to hunt their prey since they can't see.When the film does break down into total creature vs human mode it still manages to keep it's overall edge and suspenseful nature and avoids becoming silly and predictable as these women are forced to fight these nocturnal beasts using nothing but their caving equipment and their bare hands.Theres one nasty scene where a girl breaks her leg during the madness and we get some unsettling shots of her broken bone petruding through the skin and theres an awesome scene where the last two remaining women take on a small group of the beasts that are standing between them and the caves second exit.Another thing I liked about the film is that as the creatures start to come out in droves and attack the group the human factor is brought into play using an underlying subplot between Juno and the main character Sarah.This subplot is strengthened by the events that take place during the creature attacks and also a scene way at the beginning of the film that you have to pay really close attention to to notice.It also explains why things transpire the way that they do between Juno and Sarah near the end.Hopefully "The Descent" gets a dvd release here in the states soon.It's an awesome horror film that mixes suspense and scares,with the human factor and a nice dark enclosed setting and churns out a masterpiece.I'm sure there will be a slew of horror films that will take place inside caves or caverns when this movie gets more exposure here in the U.S. and studios pick up on the idea.Neil Marshall however got this one right by using everything at his disposal without a huge budget or massive special effects and creating one fun and entertaining ride through the darkness.
Pros:The enclosed cave setting,a few likeable characters mainly Sarah and Juno.Some great actions scenes,great gore and blood scenes,Nice character interaction, and good performances by all involved.
Cons:None except I would've liked some more background on the creatures.Atleast a slight hint at something ancient or otherwordly.The throw you for a loop ending felt somewhat mean-spirited considering what the surviving character had been through.
Overall:You might find the ending a bit confusing upon the first viewing like I did but overall a great horror film that every horror fan should make a note of to see.