A Teenage Brit Reviews: The Descent

(Originally written - May 28th, 2012)

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Note- This review is for the uncut UK version with the dark, depressing ending. Not the crap one you Yanks have.

The Descent is a great film, it's one of the best horror film in years, it's well directed, it's violent, it's creepy and most importantly. It's actually bloody scary.

The plot follows a group of girlfriends as they meet up to go cave-diving, however as they go further into the cave they soon realise that things aren't what they seem and it all goes from bad to worse. It's a simple plot, things go wrong for abandoned group, but it works because it's a similar story in an original setting, the caves haven't really been explored in horror films before and this film uses them to great effect.

The characters are all great, they each get equal screen-time so we don't see any of them as more important than the others. It was also pretty clever to make all the group girls, that way it's harder to guess who's going to be the 'Final Girl' because none of them adhere to stereotypes. While each of the girls were likeable and unique in their own way, there were some that were characterised better, mainly this was Juno and Sarah. Juno is the leader of the group, she takes charge, she becomes the 'Bad-Ass' of the group when the shit hits the fan but she isn't perfect, she makes mistakes and hurts people, you don't know whether to love her or hate her. I chose the latter.

Sarah you immediately associate with being the main character, she's the one that goes through a huge trauma at the start, she's the one that is psychologically wounded and it's her arc that's the biggest. We get to understand how weak Sarah's mind is with frequent hallucinations of her daughter, she needs this trip more than anyone but it ends up breaking her more than fixing her. However this, coupled with some revelations, results in Sarah growing into something more, she's the true bad-ass of the group and when she takes revenge she takes it brilliantly.

Neil Marshall also shines as the director, he makes the film a slow one, we get to know and like each member of the group before they even get into the cave then once in the cave we follow them through all the accidents and shadows in the background. It's almost an hour before we even see the creatures and once we see them it all goes into Top Gear, the tension ramps up, the violence, the horror, it's all brilliant. What I really liked was the lighting, since the caves are pitch black then a lot of the scenes have only one light source, almost always coming from inside the film (Sunlight cracking through, headlamps, light-emitting rocks). This keeps the terror levels high because so much of the film is in total black darkness and I don't care who you are the darkness always carries the connotations of something waiting to grab you.

Marshall makes the film truly terrifying at times, these a good number of jump scares but the film never relies on them, the first view of the Creature through the camera is brilliantly horrifying. What the film uses most is a true sense of terror and threat, you don't know when the creatures will attack, you hold your breath waiting to see who makes the first move.

The score is also fantastic, out of the caves it's soft and orchestral, relishing in the vast forest (a gorgeous looking Scotland that the film-makers use instead of America). Once the girls are in the cave thought he score fades away until it's gone completely and then it only comes back when the creatures arrive but this time it's hard, heavy and bass-filled.

And for all you gore-hounds the violence in this film is great, we get bones punched through legs, throats slashed, stomach ripped open, eyes gouged, heads smashed. All the blood is real, thick, spurting, no CGI shite. There's even an amazing part where Sarah almost drowns in a pool of blood, a literal fuckin pool, so deep it covers her with room to spare.

In conclusion I cannot recommend this film enough, it's scary, it's violent, it's terrifying and everything in it is made brilliantly, the score, the direction, the lighting, everything. Highly recommended, definitely see this, fan of the horror genre or not just see it.

9/10

Hey, the US ending wasn't that bad! Overall, though, I agree with your outlook on the film. One of the best recent horror films I've seen, up there with [REC].

One thing I would suggest for future reviews, however, is to use pictures to break up the review every three or so paragraphs. That way, it isn't quite as much of a wall of text.

As a different UK teen, what's the difference? Haven't seen the American one.
I wasn't too fond of the descent. The creatures looked eerily like Gollum, none of the characters were relatable enough so that I wanted them to survive, and the whole premise felt like it had been done before.
However I already knew this before I watched the film. It's directed by the person who did Dog Soldiers.
For your reviewing- I think you use a lower register too often. Instead of saying 'are all great', which doesn't really mean anything, say 'are all interesting/detailed/enjoyable to watch'
But good nonetheless.

Tom_green_day:
As a different UK teen, what's the difference? Haven't seen the American one.
I wasn't too fond of the descent. The creatures looked eerily like Gollum, none of the characters were relatable enough so that I wanted them to survive, and the whole premise felt like it had been done before.
However I already knew this before I watched the film. It's directed by the person who did Dog Soldiers.
For your reviewing- I think you use a lower register too often. Instead of saying 'are all great', which doesn't really mean anything, say 'are all interesting/detailed/enjoyable to watch'
But good nonetheless.

I'll put it in spoilers. I've only seen the American ending, so you'll need to compare it to the UK ending yourself.

 

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