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The Descent (2005)
Written by: The Arrow
Director: Neil Marshall

Starring:
Shauna Macdonald/Sarah
Natalie Mendoza/Juno
Alex Reid/Beth
Saskia Mulder/Rebecca
PLOT-CRUNCH
A group of daredevil ladies see their caving expedition in the US Appalachian Mountains go to hell when they find themselves trapped and hunted by blind yet ferocious underground night humanoids. Hold on to your Pop Corn, your crotch and your date! It gets freaking ugly!
THE LOWDOWN

Afraid of the dark? You will be.

NOTE: This is a review of the original UK Director's Cut, NOT the tinkered with US Cut that sports a different ending.

It’s been a while since a horror flick stomped my skull to ashes in its harshness, scared me silly and moved me on an emotional level all at the same time. Well champs, writer/director Neil Marshall has delivered just that. Talk about following up a tight movie (Dog Soldiers) with a superior one! Welcome to the Top Club Mr. Marshall!

Now we’ve all seen this before, claustrophobic setting and a handful of people fending off a horde of flesh eating beasties on the loose. But from where I was stabbing; THE DESCENT had to be the best horror thriller of its kind since ALIEN and ALIENS. It had me in its clawed grasp throughout, pummeled me senseless on every plane along the way and didn’t let me go till the destroying finale frame. That's what I call putting an audience member through the freaking ringer! To top it off; this flick was so much more than just monsters vs. humans at that! Every angle that came with this baby was simply put; a battle. A fight against personal loss, a fight against mother nature, a fight against shady friends, a fight against one’s fears and yes a fight against a slew of humanoid, bat like creatures who crave Happy Meals of human flesh. The Pizza was all dressed and then some!

Huge props to Neil Marshall for handling all of the aforementioned elements in a mature, courageous, hardcore and mucho efficient manner. The drama at hand was utterly poignant, the often emotionally charged plot turns were visceral to say the least while the horror on display was heavy handed in its quota of brutality and tension. No punches were pulled here; this was a vibrant, uncompromising and savage film and last I checked that's what good horror films should be all about. It surely added to the experience that the cast was solely comprised of women. And I don't mean the usual big breasted trinkets that we love so much in our genre films; I'm yapping real women here; strong, smart and in some instances quite devious. How refreshing to see the fairer sex portrayed in such a grounded, un-exploitive and realistic light. I didn't even need a tit shot! Who need them when you're dealing with "real" people! That coupled with the utterly realistic performances from the female cast, gave the semi familiar whole that extra injection of potent freshness, hence upping the chokehold that was being applied on my senses.

Yup, I won on all counts with this film with the first half of the picture was all about the women against the cave. Marshall put me right there with them and perfectly captured the thrill, utter fear and claustrophobic nature of such an excursion. Then second half of this bad girl kicked in with creatures peering in the shadows, sadistic/brutal/messy attacks, seat jumping boo scares, intense mano et beasto get downs, powerful, suspense filled bits and a strong dose of "human" evil at that. It was all there in Spades man! IN FREAKING SPADES! And did you guys catch all the swell references/inspirations from other films? Lets see, we get the the aerial shots from The Shining, the creature sound design from Mimic, the monsters from Creep (Or was it evil Gollum?), the blood bath from Carrie, the claustrophobia of Alien and the opening from Dead Calm. I know some will see these as rip-offs; I on the end of the slit throat saw the nods as sturdy ad-ons to one’s own original eye gouging jamboree.

Stack on top of all that genre quality; energetic directing, true scares, an incredibly moving score, a talented manner of milking the cave surroundings, a sly use of dream sequences and an ending that toyed with my knowledge of known conventions to rip my heart out and you get a Grade F film. "F" for "Funfuckingfuriouslytighttastic". Any negatives? Well granted two of the female characters were underdeveloped and I had a hard time pin-pointing who they were, especially when in the cave; but to be to be frank (or Arnold); I didn’t hold it against the film where the fantastic whole more than made up for that. Don't run...sprint… to catch THE DESCENT…a new horror classic.

GORE
This ride didn’t mince meat; we get a bone sticking out though flesh, torn out throats, gut munching, eyeball gouging, head stabbing, all kinds of other types of stabbings, nasty bites and an entire lake of blood. Gory and harsh…just like a good horror film should be.
ACTING
Shauna Macdonald (Sarah) hit all of the right emotional notes to deliver a credible and gripping show. Natalie Mendoza (Juno) avoided the usual pitfalls that her type of character usually comes with and put out a layered performance. Nora Jane Noone (Holly) was mucho capable as the more butch of the group. Alex Reid (Beth) and Saskia Mulder (Rebecca) were both convincing in their roles.
T & A
I swear one of the monsters was female (with hair) and we saw her tits real fast…was I tripping?
DIRECTING
Neil Marshall was on top of his game’s game with awe inspiring imagery, a talented execution of his suspense, seat jumping boo scares, bleak mood galore and the steady driving of a constant emotional undercurrent that gave the film so much more impact. Perfect!
SOUNDTRACK
The score by David Julyan was exceptional, it went from orchestral moving, to schizophrenically frightening to sounding like the score from the The Thing (love that bass). It supported and contributed to the film like a champ!
BOTTOM LINE
I’m going to go out on a severed limb here and talk out of what might be my proverbial ass; but in my opinion; Neil Marshall has entered the horror author field with this film. He took his place alongside Carpenter, Craven, Cronenberg and all. It’s been a while since we’ve had a solid addition to that list! The Descent was a brilliantly structured and executed piece of horror cinema. It was well written, layered, expertly acted, suspenseful as hell, directed with flair, emotionally resonant and f*cking gory/violent as well! I have absolutely nothing bad to say about this diamond in the rough…all I will say is see it, see it and SEE IT! THE DESCENT is the movie I’ve been waiting for all year…THANK YOU!
BULL'S EYE
The look of the creatures was kept hush-hush from the cast until the first scene where they see them was shot.

Lions Gate owns The Descent for domestic distribution; what are they waiting for to put it out? The second coming of Kim Novack?

The film was shot in seven weeks.

VISIT THE DESCENT WEBSITE HERE

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2:14PM on 05/29/2009

Truly a new horror classic

I can't believe the things I am reading below about how the film sucks. Obviously the people who said it was standard or the ending predictable saw the "cut to have a happy ending" version. I LOVED the end of the film (uncut), so like "The Thing".

It makes me wonder how the hell they are doing a sequel with her character in it though. To just use the crappy ending of the film as a jump off would be stupid. Should have gone with brand new characters to preserve the awesomness that was the
I can't believe the things I am reading below about how the film sucks. Obviously the people who said it was standard or the ending predictable saw the "cut to have a happy ending" version. I LOVED the end of the film (uncut), so like "The Thing".

It makes me wonder how the hell they are doing a sequel with her character in it though. To just use the crappy ending of the film as a jump off would be stupid. Should have gone with brand new characters to preserve the awesomness that was the uncut ending.
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4:23PM on 01/21/2009
I would have given this a 4 if it didn't take quite so long to get into. I was jumping at everything in this movie, it uses everything to its advantage, especially the dark. I loved this film, got right into it, and felt drained, tired after it ended! Ending could have been stronger too. Great film though.
I would have given this a 4 if it didn't take quite so long to get into. I was jumping at everything in this movie, it uses everything to its advantage, especially the dark. I loved this film, got right into it, and felt drained, tired after it ended! Ending could have been stronger too. Great film though.
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9:15AM on 01/15/2007

One of the best horrors ever

This movie was scary enough WITHOUT the monsters! One thing that a lot of people forget is that Mother Nature can be a merciless, unforgiving bitch and THE DESCENT basically proved that through the first half of the movie. The second half had me chewing my arm off (those monsters were NASTY). What I felt was so scary about this film was that it was quite entirely within the realm of possibility, even the monsters. Neil Marshall's got my attention.
This movie was scary enough WITHOUT the monsters! One thing that a lot of people forget is that Mother Nature can be a merciless, unforgiving bitch and THE DESCENT basically proved that through the first half of the movie. The second half had me chewing my arm off (those monsters were NASTY). What I felt was so scary about this film was that it was quite entirely within the realm of possibility, even the monsters. Neil Marshall's got my attention.
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+0
3:15PM on 12/29/2006

Scariest movie I've seen at the 'plexes!

I L.O.V.E this movie, I try and see most horrors and this is the first movie I have seen in cinema that has scared the shit out of me, I was so on the edge of my seat I was sitting on the face of the guy below me, Neil can do no wrong in my eyes! I luff him.
I L.O.V.E this movie, I try and see most horrors and this is the first movie I have seen in cinema that has scared the shit out of me, I was so on the edge of my seat I was sitting on the face of the guy below me, Neil can do no wrong in my eyes! I luff him.
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+0
2:12PM on 12/07/2006

Very good!

I enjoyed this film very much. Solid characters, scary and to top it all of a magnificent ending(original UK ending) that has to be one of the best endings I've ever seen in a movie!
I enjoyed this film very much. Solid characters, scary and to top it all of a magnificent ending(original UK ending) that has to be one of the best endings I've ever seen in a movie!
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+0
8:45AM on 10/24/2006

Disappointing

Well, I love gore. And I love creepy monsters. And I'm definitly a big horror-film buff yet I still CAN'T understand what's the fuss all about concerning this film. Compared to Marshall's DOG SOLDIERS this is a true let-down. Now, why? simply because everything here is overcooked: the gore, the sets, the characters, the dialogue and even the direction. In what sense? in a sense that we see the filmmakers stressing TOO MUCH on shots like: see, we have gore, and we see chicks actually swimming in
Well, I love gore. And I love creepy monsters. And I'm definitly a big horror-film buff yet I still CAN'T understand what's the fuss all about concerning this film. Compared to Marshall's DOG SOLDIERS this is a true let-down. Now, why? simply because everything here is overcooked: the gore, the sets, the characters, the dialogue and even the direction. In what sense? in a sense that we see the filmmakers stressing TOO MUCH on shots like: see, we have gore, and we see chicks actually swimming in blood to an extant it's rather disgusting not gory. See, the monsters are nasty, we have to actually see more than the human being can stand. See, the film is rough, and we get to see a bone coming out of a leg. The point? POINTLESS. I honestly enjoyed THE CAVE rather more than this despite of it's PG-13 rating because it left something to the imagination and usually that's what creats TERROR, while too much blood and bones creat disgust.
The film isn't totally a loss, though. The sex gtals do a considerably good jobs with their (mostly) hollow charcters. The set is really cool and the monster design is excellent despite the fact that their scenes are vomit-enducing and the film passed by quick whcih indicates a good and calculated pace.
Overall, though, a grand disappointment.
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2:58AM on 10/01/2006

Crap and a half

I cant believe Arrow put this overrated, been-there-done-that, piece of shit on a pedestal as his N1 flick of 2005.
I was really looking forward to seeing it. I just saw it and literally almost fell asleep watching it.
If Arrow thought Batman Begins had scenes where he couldn't tell wtf was happening, I don't know what he was smoking when he saw this.
Granted, the creatures and gore were cool as hell (hence the 1.5), but it was one of the most predictable flicks I've seen
I cant believe Arrow put this overrated, been-there-done-that, piece of shit on a pedestal as his N1 flick of 2005.
I was really looking forward to seeing it. I just saw it and literally almost fell asleep watching it.
If Arrow thought Batman Begins had scenes where he couldn't tell wtf was happening, I don't know what he was smoking when he saw this.
Granted, the creatures and gore were cool as hell (hence the 1.5), but it was one of the most predictable flicks I've seen lately.
L-A-M-E!!!!
Sin City peed in this film's butt. That movie should've been N1... IMHO
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9:05PM on 08/13/2006

Great film

When Arrow first reviewed this about a year ago I went and ordered the DVD. I usually always agree the the A man and this time he was right on 100%. Great film. Hell the first hour with no monsters was almost scarier then the second hour with monsters.
When Arrow first reviewed this about a year ago I went and ordered the DVD. I usually always agree the the A man and this time he was right on 100%. Great film. Hell the first hour with no monsters was almost scarier then the second hour with monsters.
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5:52PM on 08/08/2006

Unbelievable

For the first time ever! I completely disagree with the Arrow. The Descent (IMHO) is one of the most overrated pieces of crap of 2005. I cannot agree with anything the Arrow states in his review.

The acting was abysmal, the sub-plots were stupifyingly dull, unnecessary and added zilch. Poor, poor, poor!!!!!!!!!!
For the first time ever! I completely disagree with the Arrow. The Descent (IMHO) is one of the most overrated pieces of crap of 2005. I cannot agree with anything the Arrow states in his review.

The acting was abysmal, the sub-plots were stupifyingly dull, unnecessary and added zilch. Poor, poor, poor!!!!!!!!!!
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1:38PM on 08/07/2006

AMAZING

This movie was fantastic. It delivered on all levels and I was very impressed. As the Arrow says, you get gore, crazy monsters, an incredible cast, and truly noteworthy scares. Get off your ass and see The Descent right now!
This movie was fantastic. It delivered on all levels and I was very impressed. As the Arrow says, you get gore, crazy monsters, an incredible cast, and truly noteworthy scares. Get off your ass and see The Descent right now!
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11:43AM on 08/04/2006

h

Haven't seen the film yet (I'll check it out on DVD, it's been out here in the UK for like a year), but I'm curious how the American cut differs from the UK one exactly? How is the ending different? Toned down or happier? ;) I guess no one can tell me on the forum without being lambasted for giving away spoilers, damn.
Haven't seen the film yet (I'll check it out on DVD, it's been out here in the UK for like a year), but I'm curious how the American cut differs from the UK one exactly? How is the ending different? Toned down or happier? ;) I guess no one can tell me on the forum without being lambasted for giving away spoilers, damn.
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9:58AM on 08/03/2006

Great horror film

Great film, a refreshing take on what can be a tired genre. The build up was excellent, and like wolf creek it made you care about the characters.

Expertly shot with a palpable sense of mystery regarding the caves it was a top film from start to finish. I liked the way the characters psychology was slowly revealed throughout the film. With some characters becomming overwhelmed by the pressure and fear, but others like sarah seemingly thriving on it and showing great strength.

Casting
Great film, a refreshing take on what can be a tired genre. The build up was excellent, and like wolf creek it made you care about the characters.

Expertly shot with a palpable sense of mystery regarding the caves it was a top film from start to finish. I liked the way the characters psychology was slowly revealed throughout the film. With some characters becomming overwhelmed by the pressure and fear, but others like sarah seemingly thriving on it and showing great strength.

Casting women was a great move and all the actors did a great job in being convincing in their parts. It bodes well for Neil that he has such a strong entry in the horror genre.

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2:58AM on 08/03/2006

sweet

My rating doesnt count because I havent seen it yet but for christs sake, I have not looked forward to a horror flick this much since SIXTH SENSE was shopwing trailers. Im very psyched this shit is getting the reviews it is, too often I see Fallon giving flicks 1.5, maybe 2 points....this genre has needed a shot in the arm for too long.
My rating doesnt count because I havent seen it yet but for christs sake, I have not looked forward to a horror flick this much since SIXTH SENSE was shopwing trailers. Im very psyched this shit is getting the reviews it is, too often I see Fallon giving flicks 1.5, maybe 2 points....this genre has needed a shot in the arm for too long.
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+0
1:22PM on 08/02/2006
This movie scared the ever living shyte outta me! I am claustrophobic to begin with, but with the inclusion of creatures in tiny spaces set off my fear pretty well! Thanks, Mr. Marshall...I'll NEVER go into a cave again! :)
This movie scared the ever living shyte outta me! I am claustrophobic to begin with, but with the inclusion of creatures in tiny spaces set off my fear pretty well! Thanks, Mr. Marshall...I'll NEVER go into a cave again! :)
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+0
3:27PM on 06/18/2006

I love this movie

This is the best horror movie I have seen in years. The girls were bad ass, there is no CGI gore (I didnt notice any). Its rare to be scared and see alot of action in the same package. And dont get the wrong idea when I say action. Its more like a struggle for life. If you call yourself a horror fan. Than there is no way in hell you should miss this movie when it hits theaters in a couple months. I dont see how someone could not like this movie. Like what the other guy said, I adore this film,
This is the best horror movie I have seen in years. The girls were bad ass, there is no CGI gore (I didnt notice any). Its rare to be scared and see alot of action in the same package. And dont get the wrong idea when I say action. Its more like a struggle for life. If you call yourself a horror fan. Than there is no way in hell you should miss this movie when it hits theaters in a couple months. I dont see how someone could not like this movie. Like what the other guy said, I adore this film, alot. If I had to complain about anything it would be the trailer for the movie. It spoils some things, but doesnt ruin the movie completely. Other than that...great movie man! Im sure this will forever be on my top 5 list.
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10:16AM on 01/08/2006

Best horror of 2005!

I adore this movie so much, The suspence was there, the action was there and the direction and action were always spot on. The monsters really crept me out at just how vicious they were. Everyone should see The Descent!
I adore this movie so much, The suspence was there, the action was there and the direction and action were always spot on. The monsters really crept me out at just how vicious they were. Everyone should see The Descent!
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