Monday, August 3, 2009

The Descent (2005)

A bunch of over-enthusiastic, under-skilled women go on a caving trip together to help move long the healing process of Sarah, a close friend who lost her husband and daughter in a car accident 12 months ago. Long story short, they get lost in the caves and killed off by a bunch of proto-humans called crawlers, though I don't remember them being referred to as such in the movie. In part, the women turn out to be their own worst enemies and the final score is something like Crawlers: 4, Humans: 2, as the girls manage to kill each other off both accidentally and through terrible revenge! Well done humanity, 2 hours in a cave and out come the knives.

I am become death. I feel the spirit of Sigorney Weaver channelling through me!
"I am become death. I feel the spirit of Sigorney Weaver channelling through me!
I quite liked how several of the women had a moment of panic when initially trapped and attacked, then hardened the fuck up to go on a monster killing rampage. Very British. Had this been an American movie the group would have included a chisel jawed man to rescue their useless arses and a black ex-navy seal that taught them all the meaning of life through drinking your own urine and building a catapult from stones. He'd be killed meaninglessly. Back to the actually movie; some of the women go to pieces, some are terrified but keep it together and a couple just go Ellen Ripley bat-shit crazy. Two thumbs and perhaps something else up.

Overall, performances were good and the creatures believable. Gore was moderate when compared to Feast or Dawn of the Dead, but well done. No complaints there. The direction was tight and camera work quite stunning at times, I could really relate to the women imagine just how difficult it would be to keep your shit together in tunnels no higher than the length of their forearm. In fact, at least half of the tension and drama is drawn from the caving experience and environment, with the crawlers only showing up in the last third of the movie to really fuck things over.

The actresses aren't known to me but I particularly enjoyed the characters portrayed by Saskia Mulder and Nora-Jane Noone (of Doomsday vintage). These two acted like real people with natural reactions to everything around them and I appreciated their work.

As you may have read in the past, the ending is a bit arse - especially when you know the basic plot of the upcoming sequel. Sarah escapes and we see her drive to safety, then she's back in the cave again and the escape was all a dream. I don't enjoy that style of ending but in fairness she isn't actually killed, it's merely suggested as she lies in a dark cave with the cries of the crawlers growing louder and louder. Well here's the spoiler, she survives to lead the sequel. Apparently in the North American release that whole dream sequence was dropped anyway so her escape was a given.

To sum up:

The Descent - good old suspense with plenty of gore and decent monsters. 7/10

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