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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
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.
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.
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.
*** This review may contain 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
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 review may contain 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
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
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.
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
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!).
PS> Hopefully, they will not make a sequel, cause it would spoil the whole thing!
After watching "The Descent", my bud Robert and I decided that
spelunking would now come off both our "To Do" listsfor 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 believablestrangely. 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 engagingshe 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 violenceand 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?"
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.
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