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The Descent

A movie directed by Neil Marshall

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Off the Beaten Path

  • Jan 10, 2007
Somewhat resembling a big budget `Blair Witch Project' for adults, `The Descent' finds six girlfriends from the U.K. spelunking in the caves of Appalachia after one of them, Sarah (Shaina McDonald), has a tragic family SUV accident. Wanting to console her a year after she loses her husband, Sarah is not always a happy camper. Everyone is all smiles in their mountain cabin, but soon we are confronted by the usual surprise tactics: people sneaking up on others, bats coming out of nowhere, etc. The movie then digs deep into the subconscious. There are dream sequences that effectively tap our deeper regions. Then, we go down physically. (How refreshing it is to have a horror movie where going down and tunneling through caves replaces the forest or haunted buildings. )

In the movie, writer and director, Neil Marshall, relies on plausible missteps. There's the misplaced and left behind guide books, replaced in favor of adventure, and then there are injuries. Tunneling through the caverns and tight holes made me feel claustrophobic, so true was the journey's authenticity. (And I don't suffer from claustrophobia.) There's also a foreboding presence that is made tangible with low-key creepy music. In the story there is also some ambiguity about treachery that thickens the plot. Led by Juno (Natalie Mendoza) but having Rebecca (Sashia Mulder) as a key player adds to our drama and makes the dangers lurking ahead all the more dire...The line, "We all lost something in that crash," creates a tension and a needed ambiguity. Twisty, just like the underground terrain, `The Descent' rises above most formula horror pictures, even, if like M. Night Shymalan's, `Signs,' and many others, it relies a great deal on anticipation to create its results.

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More The Descent reviews
review by . October 31, 2008
The Descent
Actually, I gave this movie 3 1/2 stars, but for the benefit of the doubt used 4 instead of lowering it to just 3. WARNING: Jeff Long wrote a fantastic book called 'The Descent'. When I first heard of this movie I thought at last they had made the book into a movie. Wrong. The only things the book and the movie have in common are the name and something creepy underground.     Six women, Sarah, Juno, Beth, Rebecca, Sam and Holly, love get togethers that include extreme adventures, …
review by . May 16, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
When I first saw previews for "The Descent," I immediately wrote it off as a copycat wannabe thriller like "The Cave." In fact, that's what took me so long to view this film. I figured that it would be just another dull spelunking horror flick. Boy, was I wrong. "The Descent" is one of the top horror flicks to come out in the last few years. The plot is simple enough: six ladies, all with varied intentions, head off to the Appalachian mountains for a weekend of spelunking fun. Once they hit the …
review by . March 09, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Pros: No one involved with this film can be considered a pro.      Cons: If making bad movies was a crime, everyone involved is a con.      The Bottom Line: Just . . . don't . . . bother.      Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.      Pardon me for the sexist joke I’m about to make. Six women go into a cave and there is no one else to ask for directions; how many …
review by . September 13, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
A group of female friends meet each year for a weekend of outdoor adventuring. After a weekend of white water rafting, one of the women, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) is involved in a tragic car accident. Her husband and son are killed and she is left seriously injured. A year later she gathers together with her friends once again for a weekend of spelunking in the Appalachian Mountains (bringing images of DELIVERANCE and the cabin in EVIL DEAD to mind). Some of her friends want this to be a weekend …
review by . August 07, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
(Aug 6th 2006 - update below)  There are rules. Rules to the genre of horror. The Descent follows the rules, then surpasses them, then breaks them in its wake. This movie is phenomenal.    For years I slovenly sagged by head after viewing one dissappointing horror flick after another. Jeez what a sad journey, but now I am happy and oh so pleased to tell you my amazon friends, a new king (or queen shall I say) is born for horror.    The Descent transends …
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John L. Peterson ()
Ranked #35
I am a substitute teacher who enjoysonline reviewing. Skiing is my favorite pastime; weight training and health are my obsessions;and music and movies feed my psyche. Books are a treasure and a pleasure … more
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About this movie


Claustrophobia and bloody mayhem collide in the high-adrenaline horror flickThe Descent. Six women (including one who lost her husband and child the year before, and one who harbors a bitter secret) spelunk in an unexplored cavern system that turns out to harbor mysterious, predatory creatures. That sums up the story, but--as with writer-director Neil Marshall's previous low-concept movie,Dog Soldiers--the plot doesn't begin to describe the riveting, stomach-lurching thrills this movie provides. The script affords the relatively unknown cast (led by Shauna Macdonald and Natalie Mendoza, both excellent) just enough room to make their characters distinct and genuine, so that when they're dropped into utmost peril our empathy is engaged as much as our fear. The dynamic direction and editing make the cavern a palpable, physical presence, even before the creepy beasts crawl out of their nooks. This is not a movie for everyone; it is extremely gruesome and will induce panic attacks in anyone with even a mild fear of closed spaces. But for anyone seeking something smarter, faster, and more wrenching than static torture-fests likeSaworHostel,The Descentwill draw you into its unsettling ooze.--Bret Fetzer
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Genre: Horror
Release Date: 4 August 2006
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 99 Minutes
Studio: Celedor Films
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