Descent (2007) Poster

(2007)

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7/10
Lugacy and Dawson bring home the darker side...
Laura5 May 2008
Warning: Spoilers
First, this was a BRAVE film. I've seen Irreversible and can understand the comparisons. However, I cannot begin to understand the people who've trashed this film. I can see how the end may have come off extreme but I'd be lying if I didn't say I wished that every guy who's ever forced a woman into sex deserved exactly what Jared got. Conversely, it didn't solve anything or make anything better and the fact that the film doesn't pretend to is what made me appreciate it.

The comment prior to this one called the film pathetic and claimed no adult would stick with. I certainly did and intently. I'm 24 years old. The way the film drags made it realistic to me. People have become so used to eye candy and fast paced plots on screen that if you ask them to concentrate too long on one brick in the foundation of a film, not only do they lose interest, they demolish whatever has been built, and call it rubbish. When in actuality it's their lack of patience and comprehension that needs fine tuning and not the product of a creative mind such as Talia Lugacy's.

Rosario Dawson displayed the numbness of self-destruction flawlessly. I think she portrayed Maya pre and post assault with great ease and the transition between the two is an act I rarely ever see done well. Often times, much like the films "aimed at teens" mentioned in the prior comment, the effects of rape are displayed as either extremely manic and impulsive or terribly depressed, isolated and lifeless. Dawson, in my opinion, manages to perform the balancing act so many survivors fall prey to: drone-like existence in the waking hours, working some dead end job to survive (and distract) and then overindulging in vices in order to lose themselves in the haze of substance abuse rather than face what sobriety brings.

I thought this film told the truth and I appreciated it for finally showing people a different side of rape. So many people let the end of this film devour the middle and the beginning...I believe that Maya's face during the act was the end...not the act itself...not the vengeance or the meaning behind it...just her face...

thank you
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7/10
review of Descent
maggieblueack227 April 2007
Warning: Spoilers
Yesterday I attended the world premiere of "Descent" at the Tribeca Film Festival in NYC. I had a great time. It was sold out and attended by all the major stars including fellow my-spacer Marcus Patrick.

I give the movie 7.5 starts out of a possible 10 stars.

The movie begins with Maya (Rosario Dawson) at college. You can envision the typical college environment with wild parties and flirtations going on. The photography in this film was excellent. She meets Jared (Chad Faust) and they become sweethearts. It appears like any other relationship in the beginning. The man is in quest of the woman's attention and affection and the woman is playing hard to get. Both played this well. Very innocent flirtation between the two. He invites her to his apartment and everything falls apart.

The apartment is very dreary and dark. They eventually end up in the basement which is extremely dark and lit by numerous candles. This actually reminded me of a dungeon. Here is where he shows his true colors and proceeds to rape her. This is a very dark and gritty rape scene. This scene is not for the young or weak at heart. The rape scene is a little long and hard to take, but it is necessary for the rest of the movie that follows.

Maya now starts to lose her soul to drugs and sex. She falls into her own abyss. She starts attending the wildest of parties and wakes up one morning in a room with no recollection on how she got there. She is told to go see Adrian (Marcus Patrick). The first thing I remember about this character is that they say "he is the person who saves anyone who needs saving". He is actually the one who introduces Maya to drugs. They begin a relationship of dependency which comes into play later in the movie. The club scenes at this point of the movie are photographed with extreme expertise. I thought they were well done and I noticed that the director of photography was applauded at the end of the showing during the credits by the audience.

Maya is then back in college as a TA and who is in her class -- Jared her rapist!! You could see the confusion and emotion on Maya's face. What should I do?? What do I do next?? The shots of her face and the emotions are priceless.

What unfolds next is not actually whats happening. She acts interested in Jared. She appears to be looking to revive the relationship and be sweethearts again. I was sitting there saying could this really be happening. It wasn't. Nothing could be farther from the truth.

She invites him to her apartment and of course, he shows up. Now her apartment is dark and gritty. She has him strip down completely. He thinks he's going to get "lucky". She then teases him like any woman can. She's caressing him everywhere and he's getting excited. Note:: for anyone who plans on seeing this movie this scene is full frontal nudity - may not be right for the younger viewer.

She then turns the situation around and she becomes the beast and proceeds to rape him. Once again, the scene is dark, gritty, and very rough.

If you are going to see the movie and don't want to know what happens next, skip this paragraph and go on to the last paragraph.

This is where Adrian reenters the picture. Maya has Adrian save(?) her by performing extremely rough male sex with Jared. She thinks this is the final revenge. Adrian continues to take all of Jared's manhood and strips his dignity to nothing. Marcus, as Adrian, plays this scene as believable as anyone can. He is a strong actor playing a strong character and the strength comes out all over the screen. After the movie, during a Q&A session, Marcus explained that this scene required a lot of trust between him and Chad. Maya believes that this revenge will save her but I don't think it does. One of the final scenes has a closeup of Mays's face and you see a tear roll down her cheek. This was a fabulous closeup scene and evokes constant discussion from anyone who goes to see this movie. Did she get the revenge she wanted?? Was it as satisfying as she expected?? In my opinion, it does not. It only makes matters worse.

This is an excellent movie, will well acted roles, and I recommend it to anyone who is thinking about going to see it. I would just be a little hesitant if under 17 years of age. Rosario, Chad, and Marcus should be commended for jobs well done. The directing and photography must also be commended. It was a night that I enjoyed.
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4/10
pretty average
tarchon11 February 2008
I rented this on DVD and I kind of feel bad since Dawson and Lugacy are so earnest about it in the DVD comments. It's not a bad movie exactly, but it's one of those films that desperately wants to be a deep comment on human nature while not realizing that its story is practically a genre. Plus, it is a little simplistic about the issue in a lot of ways, and the characters' behavior often strains belief. I'd say its a film that you would get something out of if you don't have a lot of film/TV/literature/life behind you (to be honest, I've seen almost exactly the same story in horror comics even). Otherwise, its point has been made before and more artfully. And that gets to the big problem, which is that it really doesn't have much of cinematic interest to it besides the point. It ends up being a fairly bland movie overall that invests everything in the idea that the basic story will be shocking and compelling, and it doesn't really pay off.
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5/10
Palpability wears thin
D A1 February 2008
This revenge-minded, artsy exploitation flick starts honestly enough, portraying college life and the first of two horrific acts with a certain integrity. From there it feels to be downhill with poorly developed characterizations giving way to the blatantly "shocking" overextended finale.

Rosario Dawson is always someone I enjoy watching on-screen, having a spiritual warmth few young actresses can match. I went into Descent banking on the fact that, exploitation piece or not, Dawson would validate the viewing in a rare indie title role. Suffice it to say my high expectations did not match up to her underwritten, partially gimmicky involvement in this feature. She certainly makes the whole thing bearable with her innate sensitivity but in the end cannot compensate for what seems to be the product of an angered female filmmaker lashing out at sexism in a fairly unproductive manner.
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3/10
A weaker expression of a done-to-death theme.
thealighierian17 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Revenge is one of my favorite themes in film. Moreso, "the futility of revenge" is one of my favorite themes in film. Having seen Gaspar Noe's Irreversible (2002), I was expecting an even more relevant expression of this theme. Instead, this film is a weak half-hearted attempt which expressed nothing but the film's lack of conviction and focus.

*SPOILERS* The end scene, a gratuitous male-on-male rape/torture scene, came across as nothing less than a female revenge rape fantasy. However, the film doesn't even follow through with this. Instead, the drawn out scene (which FAR exceeds the brutality of the initial rape both in the degree to which it was graphic and to which it was ritualized) is crowned with a shot of Dawson's face in an expression of either regret or "This didn't fix anything" while the rape of her rapist is heard continuing in the background.

My problem with the scene wasn't one of shock, but one of confusion as to what such a graphic scene was trying to get across to the audience. I mean, do we feel bad for the rapist? Do we rejoice in Dawson's revenge? Are we disgusted by the brutality of it all? Do we feel Dawson's moment of regretful clarity? Aside from this failing, the film is really sort of awkwardly paced with more style than substance. Character's are thin, dialog is monotonous, etc.

Normally I try to take films on their own terms but Descent didn't really seem to know what those were. Thumbs down.
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Boring then disturbing....
kerndowdy3 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
I fast forwarded through much of this film. I felt that with such a sensitive issue that it was mishandled. I didn't get a real sense of her deterioration. I was left having to assume a lot about her motives, why? It was unclear for much of the film what she wanted. Any well told story, our heroine has to be likable or at least pitiable. I did not have those feelings for her. More information was given about the attacker and his weaknesses than the main character which is disturbing. I felt that the attacker gave a more credible performance than did Dawson. I got a sense of bravado stripped(literally) away in the concluding scenes. Although I did not feel sorry for him, initially, more attention was given to his rape than hers. This movie was very exploitive. I felt like I was watching a porno/rape flick. I felt duped. This just seemed like angry feminism/vigilantism. It was not lost on me that Dawson and her "boyfriend" were Black/Latino and the rapist is white. Was the writer advocating that minorities take to vigilante style aggression on the white male establishment. As an African American man that just seems like a dangerous message to send out to the young people (who I'm sure will make up the majority of viewers)who already expressed violent homicidal revenge tendencies anyway. Did part of me want this white guy who raped this black/Latina girl to get his just reward-sure. However, that is just a petty knee jerk reaction. This was just so outrageous and disgusting that it made feel like an accomplice. This type of abusive cinema will only destroy the fragile nature of our pluralistic society. I felt like it just re-inforced the stereotypes of minorities as violent predatory beasts. In the end, I felt sorry for the white rapist.
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3/10
let's stick to the classics!
suspiriaah17 November 2007
I saw 'Descent' last night at the Stockholm Film Festival and it was one huge disappointment. Disappointment because the storyline was potentially powerful, the prospect of seeing Rosario Dawson in a smaller intimate movie was exciting and, being a fan (sounds pervy, I'm not!) of 'rape/revenge' flicks of the 70's, I was needless to say very curious to check this movie out. My conclusion: let's stick to the classics! Yes, the storyline has potential but the dialogs are flat, the actors unconvincing. Even Dawson is empty. Some would say that it's a right depiction of the college world in the US, that the emptiness of the characters serve a purpose and all that jazz but it just makes the whole movie unsubstantial. Just like the scene where Dawson gets raped: it seriously lacks intensity! I wasn't expecting anything 'Irreversible'-style but still, aren't we suppose to feel compassion for her? I didn't. Not for a minute, she was so lame all the way ;-) And I read that the photography was impressive. Well, it is good indeed but nothing ground-breaking either. I must admit that the screening at the festival wasn't so good so maybe I missed out something here but at the end of the movie, I couldn't help thinking 'I feel like watching Argento's 'Inferno' again. lol. More seriously, the first scene in the club is beautifully shot and all but I had the bitter sensation of watching a longer and more boring version of the scene in the filthy bar near the American-Canadian border in Lynch's 'Twin Peaks - Fire Walk with Me'... the crude red and blue lighting, the heavy bass music, the general lascivious/decadent atmosphere... No, I just couldn't get into this movie. Too bad.
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4/10
Interesting material not so well executed
bob_meg1 September 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Having just recently re-viewed "Lipstick" for the first time in a few decades, I backed it with "Descent" even though I have heard more negative comments than good from other film friends with tastes as varied as mine.

It's interesting to contrast how the unique niche of the Rape Revenge movie has evolved in the past 32 years, from the full-on gore of "I Spit On Your Grave," to the tawdry sensationalism of "Lipstick," to the tasteful handling of the issue in "The Accused." But "Descent," though making some important points, never really offers us anything truly new in terms of revelatory meaning. No, "Descent" is so poorly made in terms of picture and sound quality that it detracts from any significant message it could hope to make --- a message that, when examined closely, isn't that groundbreaking.

I pretty much knew the plot going in. What I wanted to see *was* the "descent" or degeneration of Dawson's character. Being a big fan of Rosario's, I was anxious to see the layers being stripped away and her psyche being slowly twisted...you know, the kind of portrayal DeNiro brings to "Taxi Driver." Unfortunately, the script and the director/writer's choices don't provide any sort of believable transition.

The biggest point of failure is the second act. It became obvious what the filmmaker's intentions were for this segment of club-hopping, drug use, and obsession with big black stallion Adrian (every white boy's nightmare, natch) from a Q&A on the DVD, but this excursion into Dawson's character is never believably rendered. We don't know exactly what the hell she's doing half the time, what she's after, or why she's doing it. The poor quality of the audio/video again don't help, but the sequence is just too damn long and pointless. It destroys any momentum and investment in the lead character set up during the otherwise exceptionally well-done first act. By the time we get to the finale, our interest has already waned.

One point of success that Dawson does point out in the Q&A is that by the end "revenge" scene we are pumped for retribution, then realize just how drawn-out and ugly the reality is. While that's certainly valid, it doesn't make the scene any more intriguing.

If you have the DVD, check out the deleted "classroom" scene. This is an excellent 8 minute plus outtake that crackles with energy and provocation (though all verbal) and really DOES show Dawson's slow crack-up materializing as she delightfully vivisects poor Francie Swift's prissy, condescending dorm counselor. If more expository scenes like this had been added and more of the middle third cut down, we might have an interesting psychological study of the impact of senseless acts of violence.

As the film stands in the final cut, though, all we get is what we've seen before, only in a more graphic rendering. So what?
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4/10
What a waste!
Tracy Baxter3 February 2008
The plot for Descent, if it actually can be called a plot, has two noteworthy events. One near the beginning - one at the end. Together these events make up maybe 5% of the total movie time. Everything (and I mean _everything_) in between is basically the director's desperate effort to fill in the minutes. I like disturbing movies, I like dark movies and I don't get troubled by gritty scenes - but if you expect me to sit through 60 minutes of hazy/dark (literally) scenes with NO storyline you have another thing coming. Rosario Dawson, one of my favorite actresses is completely wasted here. And no, she doesn't get naked, not even in the NC-17 version, which I saw.

If you have a couple of hours to throw away and want to watch "Descent", take a nap instead - you'll probably have more interesting dreams.
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6/10
Review: Descent
bloodymonday25 June 2008
It's excruciating experience to see "Descent" in one single watch. It shows how much humanity we sacrificed for the sake of vengeance. Just like a great companion "Hard Candy", this movie can easily teared down your emotion and left it as open-wounded.

Rosario Dawson is Maya, a shy college student who, just like any hopeful young girls, wishes to meet a perfect man. At the party, she met Jared (Chad Faust), a passionate young man. He quickly makes a move to Maya. With all beautiful words and gestures he used, Maya finally let her guard down and completely trust that, this is the man whom she can spend a life with.

Then, horror happened. Maya was brutally raped by Jared. Her ideal world seemed to crumble right in front of her face. Maya delved into the darkness as she spends her life in her own silent world. She works in a clothing shop where she just ignores everybody else. Spending time in dance club where drugs, boozes and stranger intimacy are her new friends.

Months later, the story comes to last act when Maya and Jared meet again in the classroom. As insured, she has a plan. And it's a plan that Jared couldn't possibly think of. Strangely, he plays along with it. What we have here in the last 20 minutes is the most disturbing, depraved, twisted act that anybody couldn't possibly imagine.

One can think of how cheerfulness to see our heroic trio in "Death Proof" got their revenge. The result is comedic-like, ultra-surreal ending that sure to satisfy by fans of exploitation films. "Descent" ignores the whole concept of exploitation thing and stick it firmly to the ground with its truthfulness. It's an act of vengeance in its purest form. And it goes on and on and on and nobody seemed to be happy about it.

First time director, Talia Lugacy did an admirable job to explore this twisted world. One might think that she's overdone with Maya's downfall by putting excessive madness into the protagonist that almost overkill it. But with this powerful opening and ending, It's obvious that she has a rightfulness to tell this story straight.

One can also admire the lead (and first time producer), Rosario Dawson, to put herself into an interesting career path. It's the role that any praises for her acting overshadowed by its controversial. But it's also a role that will re-define her body of work and create a significant part in her life. As she feels that she's capable to do everything from now on.

In the final moment where the film just simply captures at Maya's face, it's effective. As they're both haunting and yet, strangely beautiful. There's not a single moment to show our protagonist satisfied in what she did, even she just thought so. It shows how much we wrong thought about "Revenge is a dish best served cold". Because it's ain't.
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