The Descent (18)

Film

Thrillers

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>4</span>/5
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Time Out says

Mon Jul 4 2005

In Neil Marshall’s ‘Dog Soldiers’ a bunch of blokes went into the forest and scary shit happened. In this ferocious, blood-drenched follow-up, a bunch of women drop into a cave system in the Appalachian Mountains… and scary shit happens. It is, as Marshall acknowledges, ‘a sister movie’. A big sister: smarter, nastier and all grown-up. Once again, the heart-racing visceral horror comes thick and fast. This time, though, the all-female ensemble cast and complex group dynamics add emotional texture and psychological depth. Plunging the six female friends into claustrophobic darkness, Marshall mines a rich vein of subterranean terror. Trapped by a rock fall, they are attacked by slimy humanoid predators. Despite their translucent skin and sightless eyes, these creatures are highly evolved, using their heightened senses of smell and hearing to stalk their prey. Forced to dredge up their primal instinct for survival, the women tool-up with ice-picks or whatever else comes to hand, clambering over carpets of bones, plunging into pools of offal or hiding in crevices as the ‘crawlers’ try to sniff them out. As the women fight for their lives, the fault lines within the group are exposed: betrayals surface, tensions explode and loyalties disintegrate. They’re not just battling the snarling humanoids, but also each another. For Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) in particular – still fragile after the death of her husband and daughter in a road accident – this nightmarish mix of suspicion and fear threatens a slide into madness. Even more might have been made of this fractured group dynamic had the individual characters been better delineated, their relationships more sharply defined, their unspoken antagonisms more effectively explored. That said, one barely has time to register this shortcoming, as the adrenalised action drives relentlessly forward. Thanks to its skilful director, well-cast actors and talented technical team, this fiercely entertaining British horror movie has blood, guts and brains.
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Release details

Rated:

18

UK release:

Fri Jul 8, 2005

Duration:

99 mins

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<strong>Rating: </strong><span class='lf-avgRating'>0</span>/5

Average User Rating

5 / 5

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Uli Chris

THE DESCENT… INTO DETAIL All you reading this review must be among those who’ve seen the movie and survived the experience, or haven’t seen it at all. I trust that the light-hearted horror-film wannabes as well as the claustrophopic “daredevils� are not with us anymore; in the best case scenario, they’re in a coma – in the worst case, they have departed to pastures new… With so many reviews written about this play, there shouldn’t be much to tell. Guess again! The build-up to the action reveals everything. The astute viewer understands from the very beginning that Juno and Sarah will NOT have a happy ending. Just notice how Sarah’s husband and Juno look at each other and –TRUST ME! – Sarah picks it up! Talking about a very observant lass… Then, during their stay at the cabin, before their adventure begins, they hear strange cries in the woods. Well, they should have understood that they had company, long before the near-end of the movie, when one of them –alas! – realizes (and promptly exclaims!!!) that their… lovely cavemates go out in the woods and hunt at nightfall. Too little, too late darling - better luck next time! Juno, then, should have been more composed: she should have done better than panic to the point that she turned one of her girlfriends (Beth) into shish-kabob, thinking that she probably was one of those “cavemates� instead. Well… tough luck for her, as her kabob-victim grabbed Juno’s necklace – which happened to be an exact copy of… … Sarah’s! What a surprise! No wonder why, when Sarah found the carcass (well… what was left of Beth, whom she… euthanized in an ugly manner – or no manner at all!), she was so pissed that decided to… shish-kabob Juno’s leg and let their cavemates have a bite! (Way to go my good-girl, Sarah!!! Now that your hubbys’s gone, may I have your number?). Too bad Sarah is not going anywhere either: as soon as she finds a way out, she has a vision of her dead friend and… wakes up exactly where she fell asleep at the first place. In her dream she’d found the hole the cavemen used to go up in the woods to hunt – in real life, she’d just taken a… power-nap! Well, at least we can comfort ourselves with the thought that the entrance that collapsed in the beginning of the movie WAS THE ONE the cavemen used to go out and hunt as well, and there is no more… … we wish! Because I hear that they’re making a sequel. I can’t wait! If it’s as great as this one, I’ll be having another good film to watch. If it’s not, I’ll be having another good reason to bitch about… By the way, the next one could start with Sarah: now that she has completely lost it and hallucinating, she could find a way to communicate with her lovely companions! She could at least become one of them, and devour the next party of diggers that dare to dug the wrong hole again! At best, she may be at her raving best, and become so pissed that she starts… eating the cavemen!!! Now, THAT could be a great sequel to an already innovative start! As far as the making of the film is concerned: PURE BRILLIANCE! Look for plenty of unbelievable scenes like, for example, the one where the cavemen devour the kabob (… ehmmm… excuse me… Juno’s victim) in almost-black-and-white, while the blood splatters all around like the firey-red Manchester United shirt that Ryan Giggs waved after his goal against Arsenal in the 1996 FA Cup final!!! Truly one of the best horror films ever made, and DEFINITELY THE ONLY ONE that ever made me (senseless that I am) actually TICK MY EYES ONCE OR TWICE while watching (un-freaking-believeable!). And I do mean THE ONLY ONE! At least the only one that I recall… By the way: do you know why the lasses look REALLY scared when they face their cavemates? Because they ARE goddamn scared!!! You see, the director, Mr. Marshall, didn’t let they see their ugly act-pals until they actually shot the first encounter scene!!! Sick, sick man…

Uli Chris

THE DESCENT… INTO DETAIL All you reading this review must be among those who’ve seen the movie and survived the experience, or haven’t seen it at all. I trust that the light-hearted horror-film wannabes as well as the claustrophopic “daredevils� are not with us anymore; in the best case scenario, they’re in a coma – in the worst case, they have departed to pastures new… With so many reviews written about this play, there shouldn’t be much to tell. Guess again! The build-up to the action reveals everything. The astute viewer understands from the very beginning that Juno and Sarah will NOT have a happy ending. Just notice how Sarah’s husband and Juno look at each other and –TRUST ME! – Sarah picks it up! Talking about a very observant lass… Then, during their stay at the cabin, before their adventure begins, they hear strange cries in the woods. Well, they should have understood that they had company, long before the near-end of the movie, when one of them –alas! – realizes (and promptly exclaims!!!) that their… lovely cavemates go out in the woods and hunt at nightfall. Too little, too late darling - better luck next time! Juno, then, should have been more composed: she should have done better than panic to the point that she turned one of her girlfriends (Beth) into shish-kabob, thinking that she probably was one of those “cavemates� instead. Well… tough luck for her, as her kabob-victim grabbed Juno’s necklace – which happened to be an exact copy of… … Sarah’s! What a surprise! No wonder why, when Sarah found the carcass (well… what was left of Beth, whom she… euthanized in an ugly manner – or no manner at all!), she was so pissed that decided to… shish-kabob Juno’s leg and let their cavemates have a bite! (Way to go my good-girl, Sarah!!! Now that your hubbys’s gone, may I have your number?). Too bad Sarah is not going anywhere either: as soon as she finds a way out, she has a vision of her dead friend and… wakes up exactly where she fell asleep at the first place. In her dream she’d found the hole the cavemen used to go up in the woods to hunt – in real life, she’d just taken a… power-nap! Well, at least we can comfort ourselves with the thought that the entrance that collapsed in the beginning of the movie WAS THE ONE the cavemen used to go out and hunt as well, and there is no more… … we wish! Because I hear that they’re making a sequel. I can’t wait! If it’s as great as this one, I’ll be having another good film to watch. If it’s not, I’ll be having another good reason to bitch about… By the way, the next one could start with Sarah: now that she has completely lost it and hallucinating, she could find a way to communicate with her lovely companions! She could at least become one of them, and devour the next party of diggers that dare to dug the wrong hole again! At best, she may be at her raving best, and become so pissed that she starts… eating the cavemen!!! Now, THAT could be a great sequel to an already innovative start! As far as the making of the film is concerned: PURE BRILLIANCE! Look for plenty of unbelievable scenes like, for example, the one where the cavemen devour the kabob (… ehmmm… excuse me… Juno’s victim) in almost-black-and-white, while the blood splatters all around like the firey-red Manchester United shirt that Ryan Giggs waved after his goal against Arsenal in the 1996 FA Cup final!!! Truly one of the best horror films ever made, and DEFINITELY THE ONLY ONE that ever made me (senseless that I am) actually TICK MY EYES ONCE OR TWICE while watching (un-freaking-believeable!). And I do mean THE ONLY ONE! At least the only one that I recall… By the way: do you know why the lasses look REALLY scared when they face their cavemates? Because they ARE goddamn scared!!! You see, the director, Mr. Marshall, didn’t let they see their ugly act-pals until they actually shot the first encounter scene!!! Sick, sick man…

Thomas Forbes

Although the other comment made on this film has some truth in it; yes it does become confusing having almost the whole film shot in the pitch black, yes it is fairly unrealistic - but the blurb clearly states that it is a new race underground; who expects it to be "realistic" from this description?! Would you think the little brother of this film (Dog Soldiers) was realistic with werewolves? No I didn't think so. Despite the unrealistic factor of the film; it is overall a decent movie. Throughout the movie I was "on the edge of my seat" as it were; this film certainly is tense and will make you jump. The claustrophobic atmosphere created by Marshall is fantastic; as is the acting overall. Although some of the flashbacks seem irrelevant and random in places; overall I would rate this film as very good. An instant classic in the very limited British Horror Film market along with Dog Soldiers. Although admittedly not among the cremé de la cremé of the horror genre; this film in my opinion is certainly worth a watch with the lights off!

Thomas Forbes

Although the other comment made on this film has some truth in it; yes it does become confusing having almost the whole film shot in the pitch black, yes it is fairly unrealistic - but the blurb clearly states that it is a new race underground; who expects it to be "realistic" from this description?! Would you think the little brother of this film (Dog Soldiers) was realistic with werewolves? No I didn't think so. Despite the unrealistic factor of the film; it is overall a decent movie. Throughout the movie I was "on the edge of my seat" as it were; this film certainly is tense and will make you jump. The claustrophobic atmosphere created by Marshall is fantastic; as is the acting overall. Although some of the flashbacks seem irrelevant and random in places; overall I would rate this film as very good. An instant classic in the very limited British Horror Film market along with Dog Soldiers. Although admittedly not among the cremé de la cremé of the horror genre; this film in my opinion is certainly worth a watch with the lights off!

Thomas Jackson

I want the hour and a half of my life I wasted on this flick back. I was fooled into watching this by glowing reviews of a tedious film that used weak plot devices and a confused plot line to try and create atmosphere but only succeeded in a dark and confusing film that served to confuse the viewer. This is a sisterhood Rambo film about as realistic as showing Rosie O'Donnell as Rambo. If you enjoyed this film you probably think Sicko is a documentary. What a come down for the director. His were wolf film was one of the best I have ever seen. This is the nadir of cave fims. Ugh. Based on reviews by the professionals one concludes their IQs are really, really low, probably they are descended from the cave crawlers.