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The Descent (2005)

October 28, 2009

VERDICT:
8/10 Ladies Nights

One of the better horror movies I’ve seen in recent memory and probably the best horror movie of ’05. Yes, even better than House of Wax. Yes, I sat through House of Wax.

The Descent is about a woman and her five adrenaline junkie girl friends that decide to take a weekend to go cave diving as a way to help the said woman take her mind off the recent deaths of her husband and daughter (just go with it). Because cave diving isn’t all that smart of an idea to begin with and I’m assuming that this would be somewhat inevitable, the women cause a rock slide, get caught in the cave, and then have to fight their way out from all the creepy, kooky shit that’s standing in their way.

I think I’ll be sticking to strictly non-athletic activities next time I’ve grieving, thank you very much.

Watched this with a group of friends a year or so after it came out since it disappeared from theaters like a fart in the wind. Considering how wildly unnerving the experience was just seeing it on a TV in a dark room, I thank my lucky stars that I didn’t subject myself to a more in-your-face setting than the one I chose.

A couple things about this movie that make it so damn scary. Lots of solid jump-out-of-your-knickers moments, some of which are completely unexpected and will leave you hooting and hollering like the frightened ape you are, others you pretty much know are waiting right around the corner but still manage to be completely startling. Most of these scares are due to the freaky bastards the women stumble upon the further down they go (sorry if that was a smidge of a spoiler, but come on, of course there’s going to be weird shit down in that cave), and being that there happens to be a nice little village of these freaky bastards setting up shop in the center of the Earth, the scares come quite often.

But the biggest reason this movie continually sent chills up my spine from one scene to the next and the biggest reason this is going down as a standout horror movie of the past ten years is the unbelievable sense of claustrophobia it evokes. Outside of dolls (a story I’ll save for another time), claustrophobia is one of the only things that really freaks me out. Insects, heights, clowns, Carrot Top – not a problem. The idea of finding myself crawling down a tube like Andy Dufresne at the end of Shawshank and getting completely stuck with no one there to pull me out, leaving me to die helplessly as I yell my lungs out, that’s messed up.

I don’t know any other movies that play to this fear, and even if claustrophobia is no big deal for you, it may damn well be after The Descent. Man, that feeling of being trapped, I’ve been shaking my head like crazy just thinking about it while writing this review. Some of the scenes here, absolutely terrifying.

But aside from the scary stuff, The Descent is just an all-around good movie. It’s super intense as it builds from one scene to the next, the main character has some great development as she goes from Sarah Connor in The Terminator at the beginning of story to Sarah Connor in T2 by the story’s end, it’s beautifully directed by Neil Marshall (who for some reason followed this up with Doomsday, which I hear sucked), and believe me, it’s an hour and 40 minutes not easily shaken off. The story’s just okay, so is the acting, but you’ll probably find little to complain about when you’re looking over your shoulder for albino cannibals afterwards.

You may not have heard of it, but definitely give it a watch. Totally crazy.

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8 Comments leave one →
  1. October 28, 2009 7:34 am

    Did you check out the original theatrical cut or the massively changed US theatrical cut?

    • October 28, 2009 9:38 am

      Not sure, seen the two different endings, what’s the difference between the two otherwise?

      • October 28, 2009 9:47 am

        I believe it’s just the different ending, although the different ending does greatly affect how you view the rest of the movie, or so I’m told. I’ve only seen the US version myself, but I’ve been told by just about everyone that the original British version is the far superior cut.

      • October 28, 2009 10:07 am

        Yeah, I think I know which one you’re talking about. Ending was a lot better, more open-ended. Kickass movie all the same.

  2. October 28, 2009 12:15 pm

    I went to see this in the cinema. After about 30 mins I just wanted the film to end – thats how scared I was. Subsequent watches on dvd – one of which i had to break over two nights because i was too frightened – have not altered my view of it. great watch. and yes, im a bit of a wuss

  3. Branden permalink
    October 28, 2009 3:09 pm

    I just put up a review of this movie today. I didn’t like it as much as you. I had some problems with some glaring plot-holes with the cave cannibals.

    I discuss this in the spoiler section of that review.

    It was fine. It was kick ass with the girls and the cannibals, but the rest of it was dry to me.

  4. nothatwasacompliment permalink
    October 28, 2009 3:36 pm

    the freakiest stuff in this, to me, was the claustrophobic parts, as you mentioned. when they’re crawling through that tiny little tunnel (some of which is submerged in water!) and the one girl gets stuck, i had to turn away.

  5. mcarteratthemovies permalink
    October 28, 2009 4:52 pm

    You sat through “House of Wax”? Yikes-a-bee, that might be scarier than that part in “The Exorcist” when Reagan crawls backwards down the stairs!

    Glad you reviewed this one, though — nobody seems to know about it, and yet it’s one of the most effective horror movies I’ve seen in recent years. It’s got everything: blood, suspense, chicks bickering with each other while wearing low-risers.

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