Wednesday, October 04, 2006

The Descent

Now this is one I really wish I had seen in the cinema! Great fun from start to finish, 'The Descent' is a gruesomely effective chiller about a group of thrill-seeking girls who learn (too late) that sometimes it's best not to go potholing in mysterious caves... Ok, so this may be advice most of us could have given these ladies before they set out, but sometimes it takes a movie like this to really get the message across. I can only hope that if enough people see this film, then the mistake will never be repeated... (unless there's a sequel that is!) To illustrate the point, I have decided to definitively never, ever go pot-holing (or spelunking, as some people strangely call it) under any conditions whatsoever, no sir, thank you very much. Any questioning of my manhood as a result of this decision will be moot as far as I'm concerned, because if you have seen 'The Descent', you'll understand.

Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) is an adrenaline junkie, but has been through rough times lately, so her mate Juno (the sultry Natalie Mendoza) organizes a trip to the mountains with a group of like-minded lasses for a spot of pot-holing, the idea being to take Sarah's mind off her recent troubles. However, the trip begins with a few bad omens. As with all good horrors, these are portents of very bad things to come. First, there are crows. Crows are always a bad sign. Second, Juno leaves the map behind. Now, Juno, that wasn't how to increase the thrills, that was just silly. This is a horror dammit! Last of the bad omens, it's a big dark cave!!! You really fear for the worst for these girls, and from very early on.

Once the group gets down into the cave, we're right there with them in the dark, wondering where the first fright is going to come from... Even the flares they use to illuminate the caves in swathes of red light give us a clue that they should be turning back, going home, and looking for kicks elsewhere, but the skill with which Neil Marshal has put the Descent together means you want them to keep going, just to see what's actually down there!

Now, I wasn't a big fan of Dog Soldiers, (Marshall's previous effort) and despite the internet buzz around 'the Descent' when it first went on release, I missed it in the cinema, but I can tell you that this is honestly worth a look on DVD. The characters are faced with limited choices in those claustrophobic caves, but are never dim-witted. The story is dark, claustrophobic, unpredictable, and extremely gruesome. The sudden 'jumps' are exactly that, and there are many of them. There are enough gross-out moments to keep even die-hard horror fans happy, and should be dramatic and pacy enough to even keep non-horror fans interested. Best of all, and in a refreshing trend that I hope can be repeated more often in movies like this, there are no cheesy one-liners in The Descent. No 'see you in hell, you freak!', no 'chew on this, caveboy!', and it's all the better for it.

I suppose the natural comparison in terms of the atmosphere of the Descent would be with 28 Days Later, but that would be harsh on both films, as they're unique enough to exist on their own merits. Not sure if I can give higher praise than that!

So go watch The Descent. Just promise me, no spelunking.

Verdict: Great fun, will make you jump! Worth a look.
Result: 8/10

1 comment:

Anonymous said...

Have to agree I found this half decent the flying pole at the start was quite an eyeful. My mate who gets all the Bafta stuff gave me a copy with "For Your Consideration" on the front little anecdote but Chris Guest named his film just that so he could have a pop with Bafta! Peter.

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