The Descent Review

After encountering some guy problems, my girls and I decided to whack on my recently purchased DVD, The Descent, to forget about them. And boy, did it work! Our petty love dilemmas were soon wiped off our minds when we were sucked into this delightfully intelligent and intense Brit horror flick.

Directed by Neil Marshall, the movie was released in 2005 and follows six thrill-seeking women who become trapped in an undiscovered cave system deep underground. The explorers battle for survival, desperately searching the maze of tunnels for an escape as they become relentlessly hunted by a monstrous pack of bloodthirsty, bizarre-looking predators.

The great thing about The Descent is that you can’t tell what will happen next. Sometimes horrors can be predictable and cheesy, but it’s executed so cleverly that every event is unexpected. Surprises and twists within the storyline make for concentrated viewing and great entertainment.

The film is distinct in the respect that it doesn’t just rely on flesh-eating monsters and bucket loads of blood and guts to be scary. Sure, gut-guzzling humanoids are disgusting and gore makes for uncomfortable viewing, but there is so much more to this film than the visuals. Many other frightening factors are closely explored, such as the fear of the unknown and claustrophobia, which vividly illustrates how dangerous cave expeditions can realistically be. Personally, I think the merging of fictional, cannibalistic monstrosities and the tangible terrors of spelunking makes for a thoroughly tense and nerve-racking movie which will both thrill and disgust.

Admittedly, sometimes the dark lighting and fast movements make it rather difficult to comprehend what’s going on, but I do acknowledge that this lack of clarity has been purposely applied to enhance the discomfort and distress of the situation.

One critique I do give is that the relationships between the characters are not markedly obvious. The only personalities who are really explored in detail are Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) and Juno (Natalie Mendoza) – the rest aren’t really significant, and it is unclear how they all connect and feel about each other. I think that a more in-depth portrayal of all six characters and their friendships would make it more personable.

Overall, The Descent is a superbly constructed horror film, with convincing performances, remarkable locations and sophisticated editing. Plenty of gore, suspense and twists will keep you hanging from the edge of your seat, nibbling at your nails or hiding behind a cushion.

And in regards to making you forget about your trivial relationship traumas, it certainly does the trick!


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