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The Descent (2005)

DVD Cover (Lions Gate)
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7.7
 / 10
26 votes
Movie Connections:
The Descent
> The Descent (2005)
> The Descent: Part 2 (2009)
Genres:
Adventure Drama, Creature Film, Horror
Director:
Neil Marshall Neil Marshall
Starring:
Shauna Macdonald Shauna Macdonald
Natalie Mendoza Natalie Mendoza
Alex Reid Alex Reid
Saskia Mulder Saskia Mulder
MyAnna Buring MyAnna Buring
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Review by bluemeanie
Added: August 10, 2006
After seeing "Dog Soldiers" a few years ago, I wrote in my review - "Neil Marshall is the best new horror director to emerge since M. Night Shyamalan, though Marshall's style is more akin to a Dario Argento or Lamberto Bava." After watching his second effort, "The Descent", that statement is still as true today as it was back then, with one big difference - he has gotten better. "The Descent" is not only leaps and bounds superior to "Dog Soldiers", but also the best horror film of 2006, and the best horror film to emerge since "The Blair Witch Project". Seem like a strong statement? I mean each and every word of it. This is the horror film that all of the horror films want to be - the one that gets fans of the genre talking and even turns the eyes of the most cynical film critics out there. How appropriate that this is also the best reviewed horror film to come around in years. Lions Gate can crank out all of the $1 million budgeted films it wants - they are always going to show a profit. However, they won't manage to deliver like this film delivers. Neil Marshall has a keen mind, a distinct visual style, and perfect pacing - he knows how to make a quality horror film.

The film tells the story of a group of female adventurers who are always trying to find the next big thriller. The opening of the film reveals the tragedy that strikes one of the girls, Sarah (Shauna Mcdonald), but I will not reveal that. Fast forward a ways to the girls getting together in the Appalachian Mountains for a cave diving expedition organized by Juno (Natalie Mendoza). So, the gals pack up and head down into the dark recesses of the cave. Once down there, a freak occurrence reveals that this is a cave system that has never been explored - no one has even been down there and made it out to report it. As they travel deeper and deeper into the cave, strange things begin to happen. They begin seeing things - people - and hearing distanct noises that indicate that they very well might not be alone. The rest of the film you must experience for yourself. I wish I could delve just a little more into what happens during the second half of this film, but this is what separates "The Descent" from the countless other 'wannabes' out there. This is the kind of horror your mother didn't want you to see, evoking memories of "Demons" and "The Thing" and all the best of Italian horror and John Carpenter horror and zombies and demons and death and blood.

Kudos to director Neil Marshall for trusting horror movie fans to appreciate this kind of film. He didn't back down and go with a PG-13. Though he did change the American ending from the British ending, it did not hurt the film - it just changed it slightly. Marshall just knows what horror needs to be and how it needs to get there. This film starts out by telling the story that sets up the events of this film. We are introduced to characters - we learn what makes them tick, why they are doing what they are doing, and how they react with one another. Think about "Alien" - how Ridley Scott set up the characters and the surroundings - Neil Marshall does the exact same thing here; he turns the cave into a separate character, much like the ship in "Alien" was a separate character. He gives us the perfect amount of exposition before the madness kicks in, so that when the madness does kick in, it does so more ferociously - it knocks us right out of our seats. This isn't like "The Hills Have Eyes" or "Evil Dead" - this is all horror, from beginning to end. You know something terrible is about to happen - you just keep waiting for it. "The Descent" is absolutely incredible.

Take my word for it and see this film. If you are a horror freak like I am, it won't take you long to see just how wonderful this film truly is - horror fans just know. We can tell when we're watching a dud long before the first shitty piece of dialogue is uttered, and long before the first CGI creature jumps out and looks like something out of "Super Mario Brothers". Neil Marshall uses some of those CGI effects here, but he does so minimally, and when he does use it, the effect is not cheesy or inappropriate. He uses it just enough. Like "Dog Soldiers", he uses old school creature effects, and the cave-dwellers in this film move very much like the werewolves from "Dog Soldiers" - the same rhythmic patterns and graceful movements. There is just something extra creepy about someone getting slaughtered by something that moves like a ballet dancer, but eats like a wolverine. "The Descent" gives us horror fans everything we could want and more. It is a kaleidoscope of colors from the horror rainbow and a true joy. It is one of the best horror films I have ever seen.

10/10.
Recommended Movies
The Descent: Part 2 Dog Soldiers Creep Isolation Doomsday Doom Alone In The Dark Grindhouse
Ginose #1: Ginose - added 08/14/2006, 09:31 PM
I was lucky enough to catch a late night showing of this film. It was hard to walk back to my car. "The Descent" is truly a terrifying film and easily a claustraphobe's worst nightmare. I really loved the creature designs, the whole movie just flowed so perfectly. I've yet to see the original ending so I'm at haste to say I didn't care much for the American one. I just hate that kind of ending... I mean, it's not the ending in general that I hated, just that last scene. Not only was it VERY predictable but it took away alot of the impact that the movie had on me. Even in that wake, this was still an amazing film. 9.8/10 from me. Certainly better than most of the shit we've been churning out here in America.
Chad #2: Chad - added 12/31/2006, 05:26 AM
I read about the different endings over on iMDB, and wow - the US theatrical ending sucks. Pick up the unrated DVD to see the true ending if you only saw this in theaters. 10/10, but only if we're talking about the original ending and not the half-assed American version.
Tristan #3: Tristan - added 04/10/2007, 06:30 PM
The ending I saw was the girl dreaming she got away, then it came back to her stuck in the cave at the end, implying she didn't make it out.
/spoilers.
Chad #4: Chad - added 04/10/2007, 06:45 PM
According to iMDB, her getting away was the ending of the theatrical cut - it didn't cut back to her in the cave, it was just a shitty happy ending.
Tristan #5: Tristan - added 04/15/2007, 01:04 AM
Christ, why does the US just ruin movies like that? How do these people make it in the movie business, when they ruin every decent thing someone does with their movie?
Dametria #6: Dametria - added 04/24/2007, 11:58 AM
I agree with most of whats being said about this one. It was amazing. VERY creepy and believable enough to creep the hell out most. The only part that I was dissappointed in was the end. It was like the didnt know how to end it so it just stopped. I really think we could have done without the whole "mental Breakdown" thing. It would have been the same movie but made more sense.
danimigra #7: danimigra - added 03/15/2008, 06:27 PM
for sure 10/10 is fine....
Greg Follender #8: Greg Follender - added 05/03/2010, 12:22 AM
Overrated.

I found it to be entertaining... but some of the raw stupidity we were made to swallow story-wise was just embarrassing. Lotsa plot holes and nonsensical reasoning involved... but I suppose if you can look past that, you'll find a nice gory gem in this film.

Some really great ideas for sure... muddled by cliché and careless plotting devices. Some of the most gripping parts of the film occur early on during the stressful spelunking scenes. Once the critters show up, it kinda spirals into predictability... but I can't overly complain about that. It's just the stupid set-up that galls me... the whole "undiscovered cave system that a trained guide decides to go along with WITHOUT a proper map".... fucking ridiculous. After that, the thing just kinda degenerated for me.

A good "B" Horror flick. Turn off your brain at the onset and you'll be fine.
I, for one, am tired of having to do so.

7/10

PS: Saw the US ending... stunk up the entire proceedings. Just terrible. That 7 is only if you tack on the film's original running time. It's STILL a clichéd ending... but a far better one than the garbage the US audiences had to swallow.
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