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  • Warning: Spoilers
    What's interesting to me is the deeper meaning and symbols of the film. The film is really about two women. Sarah, and her friend, Juno. The film opens with Sarah losing both her husband and child in a horrific wreck. Over the course of the movie, it becomes apparent that the accident was caused because the husband was distracted and upset over an affair he was having with Juno. Sarah is aware, at least subconsciously, of Juno's betrayal and that it lead to the deaths of her husband and child. She is not in a place mentally or emotionally to acknowledge it on a conscious level. When Sarah awakens from the wreck, there is a sequence where she runs from darkness. The darkness symbolizes a call to action. Sarah rejects it by running from it. She isn't ready yet. This is classically what chase dreams are about. The dreamer is being pursued by their subconscious given horrible form. If the dreamer can make a conscious effort to stop running and speak to the scary thing chasing them, that dreamer's unconscious will speak directly to the dreamer. This would be the conscious (dreamer) dropping the ego defense (running) and interacting with the subconscious (chaser) to gain new insight.

    A year passes and Juno get all the friends together to go spelunking. She lies and takes them to a cave she has discovered because she wants Sarah and her to be the ones who find the cave complex and name it. In Juno's sick mind, she's trying to perform some type of penance. She doesn't see that she's manipulating her friends to do something incredibly dangerous. Juno is a manipulator who only sees things from her own narcissistic point of view. Other people are only as real as Juno feels about them.

    Going underground is dream imagery for going into the subconscious. This could be going into a basement under a bar as in Fight Club or even underwater.

    Sarah is returning to the darkness that she ran from earlier. She starts to experience hallucinations (waking dreams) mainly her daughter's laugh. Her subconscious is pulling her back to the event that damaged her psyche (the wreck).

    They get trapped and so must go deeper into the cave to find a way out. Thus Sarah is going deeper and deeper into her subconscious. It's not readily apparent but it's when they get to the deepest point of the caves (the deepest level of consciousness) that they actually encounter the cave people. If you watch you'll notice that they stop traveling downward (they may fall or are be pushed downward but the never choose to go down). Thus the cave people are the most base and ancient level of Sarah's mind. They lack all their senses. They have no problem-solving or tool-using skills but they are very strong and aggressive. They are a primal force.

    While down with these creatures, several key events happen. The first is that Juno and Sarah's friends began to be picked off. The second is Juno's true character is revealed. She stabs one of her friends (accident) but then leaves rather then helps her (because of shock but on purpose). What's interesting is that as soon as Juno reunites with the main group, she makes a big show about she won't leave without Sarah who is missing. She acts differently when people are around. Character is what you do when others aren't watching. Juno is a person of weak character.

    The biggest key event is that Sarah is separated from the group and ends up in the den of the cave dwellers. The heart of this lowest level of her subconscious. It is here that Juno's original betrayal becomes fully known to Sarah's conscious self. The friend that Juno stabbed is bleeding to death and tells Sarah of Juno and her husband. It's at this lowest level that Sarah understands Juno. Juno is the type of woman that would wreck the marriage of a good friend, stab a friend and leave them to die alone, and lead all her friends to certain death because of an ego trip. In short, Juno is a destructive force. Sarah kills her hurt friend to end her suffering. This is the action that Juno refused. Sarah empathized with her friend and refused to leave her in pain to make her escape. Juno did not do this. Juno felt that her feelings and safety were more important than her friend's suffering.

    The other event that happens in this room, is that Sarah kills a cave dweller child and observes it's mother grieving over the loss. Sarah has now committed the same sin as Juno. The mother tries to kill Sarah. This is what is missing from Sarah's life. Sarah needs to take vengeance on Juno to become whole.

    Sarah eventually meets up with Juno again and they began to make their way out as the last two survivors. After the last big fight against the cave dwellers, Sarah confronts Juno about her lies, manipulations, and betrayals. Then, Sarah stabs Juno in the leg and leaves her for the cave dwellers. This the same action Juno took earlier when she stabbed her friend and left her. What is different is that Sarah makes a conscious choice to kill Juno and takes responsibility for the action where Juno avoids the responsibility of everything she has done.

    Then there is a long sequence where Sarah is climbing upward out of the dark to the light. This is symbolic of a return to consciousness and the real world.

    This movie has parallels with Hamlet. What is missing from Sarah is what was missing from Hamlet. They both need to take action but because of the horribleness of the action they must take, they have recoiled from it and spend the whole story getting to a point where they come to terms with what they must do to be whole.
  • If nightmare inducing horror is not your bag then the less you know about The Descent the better. Geordie writer-director Neil Marshall has delivered an accomplished, well acted, out and out horror movie that comes as much of a pleasant surprise as his first major feature Dog Soldiers did back in 2002. Shot in a mere 7 weeks The Descent sees a sextet of undeniably attractive action women leaping headfirst into an Appalachian potholing adventure that goes wrong so quickly you are left wondering if any one of them will survive, let alone ever see daylight again.

    There are comparisons to be drawn to Marshall's 'Soldiers of course - again the story is stark and wonderfully economic. Again there is group of six people, predominantly one sex accompanied with a lurking, ominous threat and again there are more nods to popular film culture than you probably realise. The Descent however has a sense of humour that is suitably pitch black.

    Long before the cave appears we play witness to a traumatic event that underlies the plot and serves to both unite and tear apart relationships in equal measure. Mostly affected are fragile Sarah and physically strong Juno, an adrenaline junkie who leads the group further and further beneath the ground. No time is wasted in recreating the primal feel of crawling through tunnels with hard hats scraping the dust from the rocks, choking and inducing paranoia all the way as it lingers in the stale, torchlit air. It's here Marshall gets a little inventive. Playing with various different lighting techniques our heroines become colour coded through scenes via glow-sticks, flashlights and video camera. Sounds echo when visuals are briefly lost and deliciously bone crunching they are too. Events escalate quickly and the whole ride becomes what can only be described as a non-stop relentless assault on the senses that will demand repeated viewing.

    The only thing that will ruin this movie for you is word of mouth, which ironically is exactly what this film will need to become commercially viable. But the less you know, the more you will enjoy it. Have fun spotting references to Carrie and Apocalypse Now by all means, but don't be fooled into thinking this is a mere standard entry into the much saturated genre-movie staple. The Descent will rank as one of the most unashamedly terrifying British films ever made. It was made by people that love good cinema, and it shows. The Descent was made before The Cave, and now has an alternate ending for new audiences.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    There aren't that many British horror films, so it's not too much of a stretch to call this one of the best British horror movies i've seen. It has flaws, but i've only seen a few films in my life that don't. It's incredibly entertaining though.

    The basic premise: Fun-loving, adventurous Sarah suffers a personal tragedy, a year later her friends rally round and they go on a caving trip in the Appalachian Mountains in the US. Things go awry.

    It's a slow starter this film, the tension is palpable from the start but things don't properly kick off for nearly an hour. Don't get me wrong, it's never dull, but the pacing of the film is similar to that of a roller-coaster. There's an uphill wind-up that builds suspense, but when it goes over the edge it just doesn't let up until you come to a juddering halt. All the horror techniques are used here, there are enough jumps (both telegraphed and not) that every pause will have you ready to flinch, but there's also fantastic use of suspense and everything about the film oozes menace and foreboding. A special mention is needed for the music. Like all good scores, it goes mostly unnoticed. But it's intertwined beautifully with the film, it moves you and misleads you, it swells from background plinks and plonks to grand, blaring orchestral pieces. The lighting is also masterful. When the girls split up, Marshall uses different lighting to indicate which person or group you are looking at. Whether it's through infra-red camera, luminous green light-sticks or red flares and torches, you instantly know who you're looking at, and that cuts down on the confusion very effectively. Flaws? The dialogue is a little clunky at the start, there's a few moments of cgi as they first enter the cave that are pretty shoddy. Other than that it ticks all the right boxes. Great acting, great plot, excellent gore levels, perfect ending. Not everyones cup of tea, but definitely mine. Hell hath no fury
  • With Dog Soldiers, Neil Marshall created a tight and claustrophobic atmosphere then added the scares to create a very good horror film. However, the tension was often released with humour and the audience were allowed to catch their breath and relax. At no point in The Descent are you allowed to relax as Marshall grabs your attention within the first few minutes and doesn't let go until the credits roll at the end.

    With the film set almost entirely underground, the lack of light is used to wonderful effect and Marshall keeps you on edge for 100 minutes; if you liked Dog Soldiers, 28 Days Later and/or Haute Tension and are sick of the formulaic rubbish being pumped out of Hollywood then The Descent is likely to be right up your street.
  • After watching "The Descent", my bud Robert and I decided that spelunking would now come off both our "To Do" lists—for good. Writer and Director Neil Marshall's "The Descent" crafts and sustains an unrelenting tension throughout, once you get past the suspended disbelief. As I watched the women one by one crawl through the tiny water filled crevice to enter the caverns somewhere in the Appalachian Mountains, I thought, "How are they going to get back? They've got to be nuts!" Well, you just have to go with it. Well, kind of. Fortunately, director Marshall effectively pretexts the story. The prior thrill-seeking jaunt for the group was a white water rafting trip. Following that trip, Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) suffers a life altering tragedy. A year later, Sarah and her close friend Beth (Alex Reid) join up with the gang at a cabin in the Appalachians. The 6 women are gearing up for a cave exploration trip headed by Juno (Natalie Mendoza). Apparently, Juno regrets not being there for Sarah following her personal tragedy and recovery. Juno sees this trip as an opportunity to empower Sarah. Those along for the ride include Becca (Saskia Mulder), Sam (MyAnna Buring), and Holly (Nora-Jane No one).

    The trip starts out curious enough when Juno (Mendoza) discards her map of the caves. The women proceed, and are undeterred by the telltale signs of mysterious animal carcasses. Not surprisingly, the cave exploration goes horribly wrong. They are lost without a clue how to get out, and they are being hunted by terrifying fleshing eating creatures. So the women are literally in the fight for their lives. Marshall masterfully orchestrates the mood and tension. My bud Robert keenly pointed out that what really works in "The Descent" is that it never evolves into a trite action movie. No one screams, "Take that you, Mother F-----!" Granted Marshall may have intended his story as an empowerment allegory. The women are authentically terrified, and fight with all their courage and heart amidst their overwhelming fear. Somehow while they are thrashing and being thrashed by the fierce creatures, it is all strangely believable—strangely. Rather it gets you thinking: "Would I do the same?" Sarah (Macdonald) and Juno (Mendoza) in particular emerge as forces to be reckoned with. Mendoza's Juno warrior spirit is consistent and engaging—she is the brash leader. MacDonald is powerful and believable in Sarah's emergence as a heroic presence. All the performances are strong throughout.

    Marshall maintains a claustrophobic feel and keeps us on edge. The unveiled details involving the cave creatures regarding their possible evolution is a nice touch. "The Descent" has to be one of the most gory horror movies with realistic violence—and I am not a big horror fan. However, I am a big hero fan. "The Descent" has great women heroes. Shauna Macdonald and Natalie Mendoza are awesome. "The Descent" is a wild tension filled ride. At the very end one wonders, "What next?"
  • Warning: Spoilers
    If you've seen the trailer you'll know what your going to get – suspenseful, claustrophobic thriller, when horrible things happen to a group exploring a cave system.

    Sounds simple but the direction is top notch, good performances from all involved and it somehow manages to dodge most current horror/thriller clichés to deliver a well paced film, filled with enough jump inducing moments to even give this harden horror buff a few scares ! I was so glad I saw this during the day – stepping out into warm sunshine after seeing this film was such a relief after 90 min of on-screen darkness and terror
  • davidcurtis_510 July 2005
    10/10
    Great
    I loved it, I went in expecting something along the lines of "Dog soldiers", something funny and enjoyable but instead I got a roller coaster ride of tension and fear. So often these days horror movies just aren't scary, they make you jump they have a little bit of atmosphere and that's it, well this film was scary. It was tense, well acted, and the director made great use of the setting to scare the hell out of you. I don't want to go in to a lot of detail in this review, as I don't want to spoil the experience for anyone who reads it, and that is what this film is an experience I came out of the cinema shaking. This film is well worth your time.
  • The descent is purely terrifying. It will provide you with an experience that relates entirely to those of the characters on screen. Each one is trapped, isolated and alone. In that theatre, you will understand the fear of having no escape. The film, like it's big brother 'Dog Soldiers', takes British horror to it's deserved glory. Unlike such films as 'Creep', which was a complete mess, The Descent is a chilling experience that places believable characters into a situation that is strangely real, despite the obvious fiction. After a quarter of the film has passed, you pray for the characters escape as, in a way, you will also be saved from the mental onslaught that drives into your mind throughout. I didn't expect anything from this film before I walked into the theatre it, yet it is the greatest horror I have ever seen, and am likely to for a very long time.
  • This tense thriller is a terrifying chronicle of six young women who explore caves in the Appalachian Mountains and find unspeakable horror thousands of feet down. A cave-in traps them with no way to retrace their steps, but don't yet know that a terrible fate lurks around the tunnel's next bend. The film is reminiscent of "The Lost Patrol" as the ladies band together as much as they can against a ghoulish and unseen foe, with each girl's nerves pushed to the breaking point. The movie's dark, claustrophobic look adds realism to the ghastly dangers that the young women face and the music score is effective. The girls have several encounters with the predators underground and use torches and climbing gear to fight off their attackers. Natalie Mendoza is the group's ambitious leader who misleads the other women about the caves and also tries to cover up an awful deed she committed in a wild flight to escape. The four other women on this ill-fated expedition are also good in difficult roles. This movie is certainly one of the best films of 2006.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    I'm curious, because of a) the wild overpraising of this film, and b) the fact that some of the "off-the-cuff" comments showing up here are repeated word for word on other sites. I mean, sure, this movie has some good jump scenes, but the characters are murkily conceived and the monsters are absolutely ridiculous, resembling nothing so much as Chris Sarandon's old mid-change makeup from "Fright Night". If people are honestly serious and are not just shilling for the studio or for Mother England when they are praising this movie to the rafters, I think it proves three things: 1) Audiences value "jump scenes" more than honest scares. 2) No one is ever allowed to complain about ludicrous monsters in any movie ever. 3) Audiences don't care about plot details. If anyone can explain the line "we all lost something in that crash"... and remember, the line was "we ALL", not "she and I both"... please do so.
  • The Descent is an exceptionally good film. I just wanted to state that at the start of this review, because it is easy to dismiss a film like The Descent as having some good gore scenes, but little else to commend it from a directorial or cinematographic point of view. However, with what must have been a budget that pales into insignificance when compared to films like Ring 2, the film packs in top class gore with exquisitely detailed 'creatures' and brilliantly claustrophobic cinematography.

    Films with great gore abound, for example Jason X, with the audience just waiting for the next gruesome killing to end the tedium in between. However, The Descent keeps you at the edge of your seat throughout, struggling for breath as you feel the walls in the cinema closing in. This is a film to watch in a very dark cinema with great surround sound. You almost feel the creatures closing in around you.

    I would have given 10 out of 10, but some of the acting is not top class, so that brings it down to 9 out of 10 for me. That aside, this is a must watch film for those who complain that horror films just aren't scary anymore. Just make sure that whoever you take with you is prepared for the experience. Word of mouth is sure to make this film a success.
  • barberoux18 August 2006
    When I read that "The Descent" featured an all women cast I expected a T+A extravaganza with spelunkers in too tight T-shirts and panties cavorting beneath the earth. I was disappointed. What I saw was a scary movie. I am not by nature claustrophobic but a few scenes of the close quarters they were climbing through left me squirming in my seat. I can't continue the review without issuing a SPOILER alert since I will be discussing critical movie facts. The movie was very spookily lit with looming shadows and false colors and was expertly designed. The creatures living below ground were creepy and scary since often they were only glimpsed in the shadows. I hadn't expected the death count to be so high nor the movie to be so bloody. I flinched often during the movie due to the sudden appearance of the creatures or from the wounds suffered by the cast. The pace of the movie once they began the cave exploration was very fast and of course with this type of movie a deeper examination of the facts reveals some plot holes but events move too fast for reflection. I can't say I liked or agreed with some events in the end of the movie. I think Juno, maybe not the best person in the group, was unfairly judged and condemned. None the less the movie was very effective in scaring me and holding my attention. The fact that it had, primarily, an all women cast was hardly noticeable. This is not a chick flic. Worth seeing.
  • I actually wanted to go see Mr and Mrs Smith but it was showing too late in the evening so we chose this one, not having a clue what it was about.

    I read the synopsis, a team of women exploring some cave and finding they were not alone...

    Well, just prepare yourself for your worst nightmare, because once it starts, it doesn't stop until the end.

    Just brilliant!!! The 'negative' character is built in a very realistic way to scare your spirit off.

    To me, this was a FLAWLESS horror movie that couldn't have been done better! Must be seen, but go to the gym and get your muscles in shape cause you might have to hold your girlfriend all the way through (if she does not ask you to leave before it's over!).

    Enjoy!

    PS> Hopefully, they will not make a sequel, cause it would spoil the whole thing!
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Maybe i missed something. That HAS to be it. This movie was one of the worst horror films I've seen in... well, just a couple of weeks. It's SO dam hard to make a good scary movie today, I feel for the people trying to accomplish this mission. I've been a horror fan my entire life; granted, i was born in '85, but who's counting? This movie just didn't follow any continuity- the monster isn't revealed until an hour in (which is fine), but there is no suspense up to that moment. It's just a bunch of girls bickering and drama between mourning, sexual affairs and outright backstabbing. Then, 2 seconds later, MONSTER. Who apparently is a human evolved into blindness and echo location sensitive, but can't find the two girls breathing like maniacs 16inches below him, in front of his face. I will acknowledge the poetic symbolism in some scenes- we all know what I'm talking about. And, I probably have it wrong, but the end is this- she'll never get away from the evils of her past...??? Wrong? Please, I would LOVE someone to convince me this movie is more than a 5/10.
  • helenvcs11 June 2006
    Warning: Spoilers
    My sister and I had some time on our hands so we thought we'd watch a scary movie... Whilst The Descent did fit the bill, it left us feeling strangely unsatisfied. For starters you want to box the ears of everyone of the girls for being so seemingly unprepared as they trot off for a day's caving. Secondly, their behaviour throughout the movie (especially in the earlier parts when you might expect some kind of rationality) seems illogical. Thirdly the ending is just so ...nnngh! Even a couple of months after seeing it my sister and I mention it now and again in a "but why....?" kind of way. Mind you, perhaps that could be seen as a positive, since we're still talking about it, however it doesn't feel like that, more just irritating! (very slight *SPOILER* : SHOCK! The slutty-looking one with thighs of steel turned out to be...slutty!)
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Not knowing what to expect, the movie started rather well, with various references to other movies (road scene rather like "The Shining" etc.) and the actors were pretty much OK (What Saskia Mulder was doing here was my first question). Like in real life, you wonder why a group of women (who *so* obviously hate each other) would keep together and pretend to have fun, so the directors added a subplot based on the two main character's dislike for each other. So far so good. The caving was felt as getting more and more claustrophobic, and it was done in a way that the viewer would feel it too: dark, narrow passages, noises, flying dust etc. Then the appearance of creatures, I found, were rather too much: the directors could have relied more on the psychological tension and kept going, as the women would have tried to kill each other anyway (as it was a strong probability from the start). Then it went into such a gore, the pool of blood was such a rubbish thing to add to the scenario: the blood should have been congealed anyway. The alternative ending was like a rebirth of the main surviving character, who ends up free, so why spoil it with a birthday cake as a real ending? In this scenario, it is rather a miracle she survived at all, stuck in this manky cave, but a good reason nonetheless to decide to end it all. Maybe there's a lesson to be learnt from the movie: people can only survive in a wild hostile environment if they turn themselves into savages? For that, I'd rather watch "Deliverance" once more, thank you very much.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    This movie was going well up until they showed the monsters in the cave, then it went to pieces. There was good suspense built up in the opening 40 minutes when the five girls become lost in the cave, you just expected something to happen and the monsters to reveal themselves yet they didn't, which kept up the suspense.

    Unfortunately by the time the monsters (which look ridiculous) reveal themselves it all gets too predictable, I found myself more unsettled by the claustrophobia and the darkness than any of the monsters. In fact there was no need to show as much of the monsters as was shown, it would have created a much stronger effect if they had kept this to a minimum. The opening scene in the movie where the girl that lost her husband was running away from the darkness is how this should have been done.
  • Ten.... wow is that is a high rating. The film probably only deserves a nine but with all its genius i decided to give it ten. How often is a horror film one of the best pictures of the year? how often do horror films actually scare the sh-t out of you? how often do horror films grip you in total suspense? how often do horror films have great acting? how often are horror films well made? how often are horror films somehow realistic? HOW OFTEN ARE HORROR FILMS ACTUALLY HORRIFYING?

    well in modern times... the answer to all of those questions is "very rarely" but The Descent does all of those and more. Somehow, it even horrified critics (in a good way).

    Note: the acting is strong all around but i have to say alex reid was perfect for the role of beth. She was no better than the rest of the cast but she seemed to fit her role more.
  • leigh-mann24 November 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    What a bunch of big girls blouses !! I can't believe how many of the reviewers thought this was a scary movie.

    Having things jump out at you on the screen isn't scary - it's cheap. This movie did it with birds, bats, the cave dwellers and the girls themselves. AVP (not a good film) at least did it with a penguin - points for originality.

    The cave dwellers were to be pitied not to be scared by. How can you be scared of something that's blind (enough torches in the face to prove that), deaf (you'd hear those screaming girls a mile away) and unable to feel (at one point one of them was leaning on a girls head and thought it was a rock!! Tears of laughter teeming down my face).

    Also they could be killed by a quick twist of the neck.

    These blind, deaf, senseless and fragile cave creatures were also supposed to be able to sneak out at night to kill moose and cattle. How did they do that then? How did they know it was night? How come nobody saw them? Why bother going back into the cave?

    The only tense bit of this film was where one girl got wedged into a small tunnel, but what was funny was that all her mates had just squeezed through it ! Was her backside so much bigger?

    The ending? Pure cop out.
  • The descent is a disappointing horror gore-fest that is heavy on blood and light on scares and tension. The scenario is preposterous and the creature effects are beyond crap. The characters and the performances are weak. The film is not scary and the characters are unsympathetic, which is ultimately why the film is ineffective. The creatures are pathetic and look like poor versions Smeagol/gollum. The film gets worse as it goes along. The creatures really sink this film to junk levels. The attack/fight sequences look like crap and the camera work is quite inept at time. The lighting is probably the most effective element of the film. The Descent will no doubt benefit from the lowered expectations set by todays extremely low grade, assembly-line sanitized and saturated horror genre. The Descent is by no means a classic or even a good horror movie, but it is better than most of the schlock horror films we see today.Preposterous Scenario, Horrible Creatures, No Scares, Little Tension, and Weak Characters. 4/10 Avoid it unless you are a rabid horror movie fan.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Cheap conversations between characters...

    Is it the only way to scare the audience: every time one of the girls look deep in the dark one of her friends come from behind to scare her, but every time. Lack of originality... Nothing new; even the creatures are "gollum" but this was the best part of the film. At least for a moment you remember a good movie...

    The only part you feel the tension is the part you recognize you waste your 99 mins to watch probably the worse film you'll ever see.

    The producer should be very talented in computer networks because i cannot imagine any other explanation for that incredible rating except that he hacked the IMDb database...
  • Warning: Spoilers
    Once again we have a movie that, after a fairly promising setup, falls back to the ever so popular run of teaching us 101 ways to kill a monster with a bone/axe. The movie uses the human instinct of reacting to sudden changes in the environment to scare you. In other words, a sudden loud noise + quick change in on-screen action = you get scared. The mandatory monster-that-looks-dead-but-isn't-after-all and the usual bunch of expendable cast members (monster food in other words) also have their moment on screen. For experienced(?) adventurers, the girls sometimes show incredibly bad judgment (another horror movie cliché). This is the case for instance when one of the girls thinks she sees daylight and runs(!) towards the light just to fall down a deep shaft. Another instance is when a lead character jumps around a corner and shouts (apparently to scare the possible monster around the corner). This after she has herself figured out that the monsters seem to hunt by tracking sound.

    Up until when the first monster is shown, this movie actually had a lot of promise I think. The triangle drama between the two main characters and the husband of one of them surely made for a good (although somewhat cliché) setup for conflicts to be solved deep underground. The gruesome car accident in the beginning also added some very good premises to the mix. I would have liked to see a movie that would deal with the psychological stress of being trapped underground and how this affects the group dynamics and the individuals. No monsters would have been needed, just something to trigger the imagination of the audience. The potential to create something scaring without ever showing a monster was there, which I think is well illustrated by the scene where one of the girls gets herself trapped in a transfer tunnel and starts panicking (the best scene in the movie imo).

    Overall, as far as gore goes this movie delivers. I would not call it particularly scaring though, since after the monsters are shown it's more or less a slaughter fest, nothing more. Kudos for creating a believable claustrophobic cave environment (at least the first half of the film. In the second half, the fact that they're actually in a cave seems to be of less importance). Good sound design also. But in the end this is just another gore movie in the line of many.
  • wow up until now this movie has actually accumulated a score of 7.5 on average... I have to stop and ask myself how? The two lead actresses both seem to wholly overdo their parts, especially in facial expression which to many people I suppose wouldn't mean much, but to an avid viewer of Horror films such as myself, facial expression is often key to conveying the terror to the audience. Aside from this the acting was alright, nothing really notable, with as usual the best character being offed first (Holly). This all is very trivial in the scope of things. The real thing that makes this film awful is... the plot. First and foremost the creatures which suddenly decide to up and kill all of the hikers have zero background. None. We never even learn what they are by the end of the film. I was a little offended by this because I felt like this completely dumbed down the plot to the level of every B movie. There are people, along comes a monster and kills them all with no motive. Thats it. And to add to that the monsters even look like they're straight out of a B movie (either that or they were rejects for Gollum in Lord of the Rings). Now unless you plan on seeing this movie with someone who is very (and I mean very) easily scarred I would recommend skipping this movie and seeing the real deal movie by this director; Saw.
  • Warning: Spoilers
    EDIT: There are no real "spoilers" in this review, but apparently someone reported me for it, so I hang my head in shame... and contempt.

    British director Neil Marshall delivers a fantastic, chilling and symbolic horror movie that was critically acclaimed when it hit cinemas in the UK. The Descent (2005) can be seen as the reinvention of his 2002 werewolf horror movie Dog Soldiers. As opposed to the six male protagonists in that film, here Marshall lets us follow a group of six 20-something women. He has also changed setting to something that never ceases being frightening or unpleasant: a cave. In short, he has updated, amended and reinvented his last work and the outcome is something magnificent.

    There's a tense and distinctly uncomfortable build-up in The Descent that culminates in something not-so-typical for a horror movie which throws us off-guard, namely a brutal car-crash that sets the tone for what is to come. The accident also destroys a family. In order to try to get past this tragedy, and overcome the death of her daughter, Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) agrees to reunite with her girlfriends on a cave-diving adventure in the wilderness.

    The climbing goes well until it turns out that the pragmatic "tough-chick" leader of the cave expedition, Juno (Natalie Jackson Mendoza), has taken the girls to an unexplored cave system to satisfy her own adrenaline needs. The trouble is, the system caves in and the six girls become trapped with each other in a place that no one even knows about. Well, almost no one.

    While the observant viewer can find foreshadowing devices in The Descent, it is never clear just what faces the girls down in the caves until we see it up-front and, when we do, it's a harsh slap in the face. The lurking threat is chilling to the point of setting an almost unbearably creepy atmosphere and eerie mood.

    Conflicts inevitably arise between the girls as they're left to try to escape and we quickly anticipate a clash between the pragmatic June who brought them there in the first place and the fragile Sarah. What I love about this is that the characters do not fall prey to predictable petty arguments like in most horror films, but instead we see an unavoidable clash between the natures of the main characters that was just bubbling to come up. Their histories and personalities just wouldn't allowed them to get along. The other characters are compelling and easy to follow.

    The Descent is not only about descending down caves and battling something ominous, although this part was of course extremely well-crafted and takes care of our primal fear. But it also refers to a descent into madness as the main character Sarah struggles to overcome tragedies in her life, but seems only to descend further into desperation as her situation worsens. The dire circumstances lead to some interesting and surprisingly advanced character development on her part, but also in the other girls.

    I found the environment of The Descent to be completely flawless. I genuinely can't think of anything scarier or more effective for this movie. The gloomy, damp, maze-like caves play host to some truly frightening things, both physically and psychologically. To top it all off, rest assured that Marshall never shies away from giving us some good splatter-action.

    Survive if you can.
  • opeth_forever13 December 2005
    Warning: Spoilers
    It's refreshing to go to a horror film that's not rated PG13 and get genuinely scared. I wasn't particularly keen on watching this film after seeing the trailer (which in my opinion makes this seem like a terrible B-grade movie), but I'm delighted to say that this is one of the better horror flicks in recent times.

    The movie starts off with some nice aerial photography of the Appalachian mountain region, with winding roads flanked by dense forests (a la The Shining). The plot is fairly straight forward - an all-girl team of adventurers find themselves trapped in a cave system infested with strange looking blood-thirsty creatures. While this might seem to be rather derivative, the direction is excellent and captures the sheer terror and helplessness of being trapped in very claustrophobic surroundings. Minimal yet sufficient lighting from the torches of the members, ensures that the movie doesn't deteriorate into making the darkness as an excuse for bad CGI (speaking of which there is virtually none).

    In fact, to its credit, The Descent is probably just as scary or even more so before the appearance of the creatures. I found myself flinching at the carnage and even rooting for the survival of the protagonists as the onslaught began. The dialog is kept to a minimum (you will not find any one-liners here) and the characters' actions are largely believable given the situations. The acting is uniformly good and does not detract from the atmosphere. The director has to be commended for making a great film with such a low budget and this is rightfully the successor to those classic Evil Dead films.

    If you are a horror fan, this is a must-watch movie - it'll help you erase those painful memories of horrendous remakes or movies ruined by excessive use of CGI. Even for the normal viewer, The Descent offers enough to merit the cost of a movie ticket as long as you can stomach the violence that earns it an M-18 rating.
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