Let me get this out of the way. I am the last horror blogger in the world to see The Descent. I know, I’m willing to give up my Cool CardTM and sit with Dawn Weiner at lunch for a week.
Pfft, Dawn Weiner is the tits.
There, now I really loved this movie. It was entertaining and had some really scary moments.
Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) is enjoying her yearly sporting trip with her friends. Life seems mostly good, although things aren’t perfect. Her husband (Oliver Milburn) has a moment with Sarah’s friend, Juno (Natalie Mendoza), that makes me wonder if there’s more between the two of them. A moment of distraction on the highway causes a car accident, and suddenly Sarah’s husband and daughter are dead. The story picks up a year later. This year, they’re going spelunking in the Appalachians. Things start to unravel, though. The cave collapses behind them and Juno confesses that she filed a plan to explore one cave system but really took them to another, unexplored cave. Hey Juno, I know this guy, Mike, from The Blair Witch Project. He hates maps too, maybe you two can get together based on your mutual hatred of cartography. Then, Holly (Nora-Jane Noone) takes a fall and gets a nasty compound fracture (Third movie I’ve seen where a character gets a compound fracture! Ick.)
The worst hasn’t come yet. The women aren’t alone. There are these pale, humanoid creatures hunting the women. One by the one, the women are picked off by the creatures (Or Juno, who accidentally mortally wounds one of her friends and then tries to cover it up.) Finally, Sarah and Juno are left and we never really find out if Sarah escapes the cave.
What I liked about this movie. The set was amazing. I found out that this wasn’t filmed in an actual cave and was absolutely amazed. Things sure have come a long way from the days of styrofoam and plastic bag caves on Star Trek. There are some amazingly beautiful shots, like this.
The set looks amazingly realistic and it’s nice to not be distracted by goofy, fake scenery.
The lighting alternates between the hellish, red glow of the flares the women use and the creepy, unearthly green glow of the glow sticks. I noticed that Sarah tended to be in the cool, green glow, whether she was in the hospital or using a glow stick. Until the very end, where I’m pretty sure she’s gone crazy and everything is red.
The green infrared light of Holly’s camera also allows for some creepy moments, like this.
The music reminded me of the music in The Thing. Instead of being very loud it’s more like a quiet pulse that emulates a heartbeat.
Finally, the creature effects were quite scary. The crawlers look like if Voldemort had a baby with the Pale Man and if that baby had a baby with an orc.
A good portion of the scares are based on the creatures slowly creeping up behind the women in a shot. You realize that it’s there and you freak out. Also, a lot of their creepiness is based on sound. Before they approach you hear these clicks that are very Predator-ish. Makes sense, since they’re blind so they probably sense based on some kind of echolocation.
My main complaint with the movie is the characterization of the women. The movie is English and the characters all have very similar accents. I could only tell three of them apart–Sarah because she’s the protagonist, Juno because I disliked her, and Holly because she had a different hair style from the other women. I wish that more of an effort were made to differentiate the other women because I barely even felt anything when they died. I just wasn’t attached to any of them, aside from Sarah, and actively disliked Holly and Juno.
Ultimately, though, this is a movie that’s worth your time. When I watched the movie, I was thinking that we’re watching women literally descend, into the earth. But they’re also descending into madness. Finally, if you think of the word “descent” meaning lineage, it makes you wonder where the crawlers come from. Are they the remnants of the first settlers of North America that took to the cave? Are they just defending what they view as their territory against interlopers? And, if they’re descended from humans, does this mean that they should be protected?
- Scarina--the authoress and editrix of this site. I like scary movies and have dedicated my free time to cataloging horror--the good, the bad, and the ugly. Sometimes there are books too.
There's film criticism, literary criticism, and humor here. I can be highbrow but there's lots of pop culture too. And feminism.
I fervently love "Twin Peaks" and wish it were a real place so I could move there. I can't list my favorite scary movies because they change depending on my mood, the season, and how much coffee I've had.
I'm an artist looking for ways to blend creepy with cute. I try to channel my childhood nightmares, my love of horror, and my experiences with sleepy paralysis.
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