DISCLAIMER: This is not a series dedicated to proving men shouldn’t cry, or to suggest ONLY women cry and are therefore inferior. The goal of this series is to dispel the pre-established (yet flawed) notion that being “manly” and being disconnected from your emotions go hand-in-hand. Even the most macho of men enjoy and even shed a tear at films, and the sooner we can admit that the sooner the concept that one sex is better than the other can go away. While the approach to these articles is one of light-hearted comedy, the emotional core is valid. While men might be more hesitant to admit it, movies often times have the potential to make us cry, for example:

“Subterranean Horror Movies”

As the nights get longer, encroaching on the light and snuffing it out, my mind wanders to movies about the darkness. Specifically about underground darkness, and honestly I’m surprised how many of these movies there actually are. There’s something about dark, enclosed places that just breeds cinematic tension. Even the least mental health educated layman knows the proper term for fear of small spaces – claustrophobia. It’s one of the more name-brand flashy phobias one can have, along with arachnophobia and Carrottophobia (the fear of Carrot Top). As for movies that exploit the unknowing, secretive horror that lurks underground, here’s a list of such films that scare us as well as make us feel things. Sad things. Scary things.

1. The Descent
I love this movie. There, I said it. An all female cast that passes the bechdel test with flying colors, this movie will scare the crap out of you whether or not you came in with claustrophobia. There are scenes in this film that are so cramp and disorienting, even a GPS would throw up its hands and fall into the fetal position. Then you throw in an evolutionary offshoot humanoid cave creature species, and you’ve got movie magic. The character arcs all feel earned, the plot is brisk yet suspenseful, and the ending… well the ending… the ending proves it’s a weeper – for some guys, at least.

Depending on what country you live in, the sole survivor either escapes or just imagined that she escaped. The latter ending wasn’t used in American theaters because it was deemed too depressing. That’s right, “America, F-yeah!” couldn’t handle the idea that the hero loses. Step one is admitting it, guys.

2. Buried
Anyone who thinks Ryan Reynolds should fire his agent at this point either hasn’t seen the trailer for Deadpool, or hasn’t seen this film. In what could have totally been a complete disaster but ended up working, the entire film takes place inside a coffin. Ryan being the sole occupant, talks to several people through his rapidly dying cellphone. The sense of restriction that Ryan feels is 100% transferred to the audience that yearns, begs, NEEDS to get out of that box. Show another angle, do a flashback, anything…but no. Unidentified terrorists capture him in the middle east, attempt to ransom him, and his US contact tries to assist from across the world (and 6 feel up).
I won’t spoil the ending, because that’s part of the impact of the film, but there is one part where Ryan hears digging. Then he hears voices saying they’ve found him. Then he sees the lid being pried open. Then the lid is lifted and he sees light.

Then he stops imagining all that and is back in the box. Ouch.

3. The Cave
This is the direction that The Decent could have gone in if they opted for more CG and less acting talent. That being said, this was a much higher budgeted film and was kind of a so bad it’s good deal at its release. Similar structure, people go into a cave and encounter some creatures, only this time it’s parasites that turn the infected into demon-like bat creatures. It’s hokey but beautiful and very stylistic, with the director working previously on Dark City and The Matrix as an assistant director. Sometimes you just want to watch a bunch of people in a cave get murdered, right?

The ending of this film bodes poorly for the human race and always bothers me. Perhaps the people who decided America couldn’t handle the ending of The Decent were right. One of the remaining humans reveals she’s infected with the parasite, then walks into a crowd and is lost, hinting that we’re all doomed. Wonderful, and I was only three weeks away from retirement.

4. As Above, so Below

Giving how creepy the catacombs under Paris are in real life, I’m surprised there aren’t tons more movies that take place there. This one in particular was actually shot on-site with the approval of the French Government, who probably assumed everyone involved would be swallowed by Hell itself anyways. The plot is somewhat lost amidst the found-footage cliche, but basically some researchers go looking for the philosopher’s stone, and for some reason it’s in Paris. As they are forced lower and lower due to cave-ins, cultists, and just plain getting lost, eventually they start getting taunted by demons and apparitions of personal torment. Good times are had by all…before they die.

What really gets me in this story is the protagonist’s father was obsessed with finding the stone, and hanged himself after going insane looking for it. That’s all fine and good, but even after the daughter finds the stone, she’s still plagued by images of him hanging. She just proved him right, her inner demons should be giving her a slow clap. But no, they just keep twisting the knife. Jerks.

5. The Divide

This last one is not very deep underground, really just a bomb shelter in a basement. The title refers to both the separation between the surface (which was just nuked to all hell) and the relative safety of the shelter, but also the thin line between civilized society and women discussing who they should sleep with so that they’re not murdered, hacked up, and thrown in the septic tank. Yea, it’s that kind of movie. You’re going to feel very dirty after watching it, probably needing a shower or two, but it’s worth it.

The sad part? I mean, besides all of it? I’d say it’s when the less macho guy realizes that once civilization has ended and “might makes right” kicks in, he’s really on the losing end of the stick. And then he loses. Because of the stick.

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