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THE DESCENT: PART 2
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Reviewed by: Ammon Gilbert

Directed by: Jon Harris

Starring:
Shauna Macdonald
Jessika Williams
Michael J. Reynolds

Movie:  
star star star star
Extras:  
star star star star
Overall:  
star star star star
What's it about
Sarah, the surviving member of a caving expedition that was attacked by underground creatures from THE DESCENT, is brought back down to the caves to help a search party find her missing friends. Hours after the events of the first film, Sarah has no memory of what happened until she's underground and it's too late.
Is it good movie?
Neil Marshall's THE DESCENT remains to be one of the scariest movies I've ever had the pleasure of viewing on the big screen. The US version ended with Sarah, the surviving member of the group, escaping the caves and running away screaming (the original UK version, no one survived), hence where we start off with THE DESCENT: PART 2.

Being such a fine film, I wasn't expecting PART 2 to hold a candle to THE DESCENT in terms of quality, but it's hard not to expect a little bit of the greatness to come off the first film and show up here. Where THE DESCENT built on the relationships of the women going down and the building of tension and claustrophobia before the creatures show up, PART 2 goes for the jugular right off the bat, making it more of a man vs creature movie than a man lost-in-a-cave movie, and for some that will work just fine.

The group this time is an a-hole sheriff and his rookie deputy, three people from search and rescue, and Sarah, who can't remember a thing from the events of the first film (which takes place a day or two earlier). The five characters are there mostly to fill the body count quota, as they're all somewhat annoying (even Sarah, who mostly broods and looks scared throughout). The one character that I actually had respect for from the beginning is the first to go, so least to say it was more of a waiting game to see when the others met their demise.

Since it's straight to DVD (though rated R) and the emphasis was on the creatures this time around, you know you're gonna be in for a bloody time, and in that regards PART 2 didn't hold back. There's plenty of neck biting, skull smashing, pickaxe stabbing, and bone crushing, each caked with a gush of blood splatter that leaves nothing to the imagination. They show every gore effect here in the bloodiest of red quality, which is exactly what the film needed to step up from being such a drag in some of the other departments.

Speaking of the gore and the creatures, boo-scares is the name of the game in PART 2 as the only way the filmmakers thought it was possible to actually scare the audience is for the creatures to jump out at the camera. From the get-go, there's an onslaught of boo-scares coming at you from every angle. Sometimes boo-scares can be fun, but when its used so much that it becomes predictables, the boo-scare lose their effectiveness.

The cave space where the film is set is small and confined, but I never felt like they were stuck miles underneath the ground and I never got the sick feeling of claustrophobia sneaking up on me. It felt like there were a few main cave areas where the group spent most of their time, and oddly enough, for as deep as they went getting down to the depths of the caves, it took no time at all to rise to the surface.

Looking back, PART 2 was about what you'd expect from a straight to DVD sequel to THE DESCENT. They went the HALLOWEEN 2 route and started the movie from the second the first film stopped, and decided to give more of what they thought the audience liked so much from the first film (the creatures) and less of what actually made the first film work (the relationship dynamics of the group and the building of claustrophobia and suspense). For those looking for more creatures and gore (though no more backstory as to their origins), PART 2 is exactly what the doctor ordered. For those looking for more of THE DESCENT, you'll be slightly disappointed.

Video / Audio
Video: 2.35:1 Widescreen had the same look as the original in terms of lighting and color palette, but had issues dealing with all the dark. Some shots the cave was solid black, other shots the cave was dark grey and grainy. But it wasn't bad, overall.

Audio: 5.1 Dolby Digital sound was solid throughout, with those creatures popping up all over the place and it's insistence of rocking the boo-scares.

The Extras
Trailers: DAYBREAKERS, AFTERDARK HORROR FEST 4, CABIN FEVER 2, and maybe one other trailer from Lionsgate shows up at the beginning and an icon in the Special Features menu. Meh. Where's the trailer for THE DESCENT: PART 2, yo?

Deleted Scenes: an 11-minute string of deleted scenes in order of appearance, much of which added to the douchey character of the sheriff before they descent into the caves. Definitely worth a watch (though be warned, it shows the same deleted scene twice, one with credits over it, one without [wtf?]).

Storyboard Gallery: a few key sequences are shown in storyboard mode. If you like the process of storyboarding and then seeing what it looks like as the final product, it's not a bad feature. If you're not into that kind of stuff, steer clear as it'll be just a waste of time.

Commentary with director Jon Harris and actors Shauna MacDonald, Krysten Cummings and Anna Skellern: wanna know how awesome the film is and how they came up with shot the scenes in PART 2? Then watch the film with the commentary track.

The Making of The Descent Part 2: Deeper & Darker: A little better than your standard making-of featurette, exploring many of the different aspects that went into the making of PART 2, from the creature effects to the cave designs and sound stages, to where the writers were coming from to how executive producer Neil Marshall thought about the sequel. It's split into a few different segments, each one focusing on a different aspect of the process, with interviews with the cast and crew. While they're all enthusiastic about the, they weren't delusional in thinking that PART 2 was better than the original and definitely not best film ever made.

Last Call
THE DESCENT: PART 2 was fairly straight-forward creature feature set in a cave setting, with a shit-ton of boo-scares and gore effects, but lacked the tension, suspense, and claustrophobia that pumped through the original. The characters are no more than additions to the body count, but for those who would like to know what happened to Sarah after she escaped (thank you US version), PART 2 is a fairly entertaining ride. Just don't expect the awesomeness of the original to rub off here.
ARROW IN THE HEAD'S RATING SYSTEM
star star star star I'D BUTCHER MY FAMILY TO SEE THIS AGAIN
star star star HANG ME BUT I DUG IT A LOT
star star AN OK WAY TO KILL TWO HOURS
star JUST SLING AN ARROW IN MY HEAD AND LET ME DIE IN PEACE

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