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  • Writer's pictureMr. Pat

The Descent

Updated: Jul 19, 2021

The 277th review overall!

It took me 29 days, but my list for October is now set and no more searching for something to watch. After a smooth day of work, I came home and checked out the last of the Family Video pile and watched...

The Descent (2005). Family Video

I’m going to be honest with you, I put off watching this movie for years. I worked at a movie theater and during your shift you’d have to do “theater checks”. You’d go into each auditorium and make sure the movie was playing right, no one had their phones out and just make yourself seen so people could come to you with any complaints. I must have come in at the wrong times because each venture in there, there was a big jump scare. Then I’d read reviews where people would rave about how scary it was, best horror movie of the decade, blah blah. I’m not the biggest fan of jump scares because they’re easy and I jump at everything. After running out of days last year I resolved to watch it this October. After finding it at Family Video I was mixed with excitement and a small bit of dread. I tell you all this to give you a reason as to why I was so disappointed.

After a tragic accident where a mother loses her husband and daughter in a car crash reminiscent of the scene from Final Destination, a group of friends from across the pond want it to be like the old times so they go spelunking in a cave in North Carolina. After a cave in, the group realizes their leader has actually taken them to an unexplored cave so there is no hope of rescue because no one knows they’re there. While exploring, they eventually come across a whole bunch of humanoid creatures that have adapted completely to life in the cave. It then becomes a battle of survival as they desperately search for a way out.

I did like the movie’s atmosphere. It’s extremely claustrophobic and the different camera angles to show that off are well done. I could, on a much lesser extent, feel what they were feeling as they were crawling through the narrow passageways. When the creatures first make themselves known it’s cool to know that these monsters could be, and usually are, right by them hiding in the shadows. You don’t know where these things are coming from, how many there are and when they’re going to pounce. It’s a cool bad guy to fight because the group is essentially at their mercy. They can’t actively search these creatures out because they don’t know the terrain and anytime someone makes a mad dash, it doesn’t work out for them. The creatures are completely blind, using sound to hunt, so if the women know one is close, they have to wait in silence and darkness, it’s neat seeing them go up against the creatures in the non-action scenes, it’s the only the time the movie gets a chance to breathe, even if you’re holding your breath. Plus I liked the cast, even if I couldn’t tell any, but three, of them apart. They had good chemistry and seemed like actual friends.

That’s about the extent of what I liked. It built up tension pretty well, but it always amounted to a jump scare, usually in the form of them turning around, coming face to face with a monster and said monster screaming. I was expecting a terrifying experience, but it mostly amounted to me waiting around for the next monster to start screaming so I could jump. The worst part, however, are easily the action sequences. Anytime there’s a fight between a human and a creature the editor goes nuts. There are so many quick cuts it’s impossible to tell what’s going on. The Bourne movies like to use the different cuts but this one goes way overboard. I understand it’s a way to show off hectic it is, but this is out of control and takes me out of the moment. Also with the fights, they described these things as being perfectly adapted to life in the caves, they’re constantly climbing, so they’re pretty buff, but they’re constantly getting their asses kicked. None of them wins a one on one fight despite always get the jump on our protagonists. There’s also a sequence involving one of the characters who was previously stabbed in the neck choking on her own blood, surviving for a half hour, alone, so she could relay some relevant plot information to our hero that I really didn’t buy.

It’s not bad, I guess it’s my fault for swallowing so much hype and building the movie up in my mind. It’s just, not that scary. There’s things popping out at you aplenty, but that’s not what I mean. It’s like that one friend that hides out in a corner and leaps out at you then pats himself on the back thinking he’s clever when you jump. You’re not fooling anybody, we can see through that.

There are two endings, one for the US release and the other in the UK. They range from bleak to despair, I think we all know which one went where. The DVD I watched had the UK version and I think it’s the better ending. Even if the woman did escape, there’s no way her PTSD is going to leave her more than a broken shell.

5 Dr. Chainsaws!

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