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The Descent (2006)
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Review Date: January 03, 2007
Director: Neil Marshall
Writer: Neil Marshall
Producers: Christian Colson
Actors:
Shauna Macdonald as Sarah
Natalie Mendoza as Juno
Alex Reid as Beth
Plot:
Six tough-ass ladies with thick accents and a penchant for all things risky, decide to scuffle down a cavern for the purposes of entertainment and surprise-surprise, end up stuck and wondering how to get themselves out of their jam. What follows is plenty of darkness, a pinch of creepiness, plenty of boo scares and a final act that will likely scare the butter off your popcorn, as blood, guts, gnawing and a gaggle of human remains inject themselves into one apocalyptic nightmare scenario.
Critique:
No matter how effective this film’s final 40 minutes are (and believe you me, they are damn effective, creepy, gory and all that fun stuff), this movie basically follows the same plotline as umpteen other films before it; it being a bunch of people getting stuck in a after which they either turn on each other or are stalked by some unknown entity. I don’t say this because this movie didn’t add any originality to this tried-and-true formula, because its enemies in the dark were certainly as creative and exciting as any other film of the sort, but because the film’s first hour was a tad dry, with all of the characters going through the deja-vu motions as every other such character before them. All that said, once the “action” got going, it was some pretty sick shit, with blood and speed and gore all mixed in with a bevy of passionate ladies who must all have learned a thing or two from the woman who made their capacity to kick movie-ass possible, Ripley aka Sigourney Weaver. And that was the other element of the film that I really liked a lot, the fact that it basically starred six women and no one else. Despite the fact that only two of them turned out to be completely identifiable with memorable background stories wasn’t a major drawback either, as both Juno (Natalie Mendoza) and Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) certainly offered powerful enough performances to keep me engaged throughout.

But you can’t discuss this film without getting into its horror elements with its baddies certainly coming across as some scary motherfuckers, although not particularly impenetrable like the aliens from that oh-so popular franchise series. That said, I certainly would have shit my pants and called out my mother’s name a few times if I were stuck in that darkness myself, but my job is to critique what worked in the film and what didn’t, and while the nasty buggers certainly were scary, I would have preferred less super-quick-cuts during the action sequences, as that made it a little harder to follow. I would definitely suggest you watch this film alone in the dark if you can though, as it definitely does “up” the “what the fuck was that noise?” factor. Finally, I saw both endings to the film (international and domestic) and actually didn’t mind either one, with the international one being the bleaker of the two, of course. In the end, the film delivers in scares and action, but not before you have to sit through a pretty long build-up which includes the ladies drinking lots of beers and smoking weed (which almost made it seem like the screenplay was written with men in mind, and then switched to women for the sake of originality—which I most certainly appreciated).

I do have to offer some kudos out to writer/director Neil Marshall as well for taking the basic idea behind many other thrillers and turning it into something that I would still heartily recommend to anyone who likes to get scared in the dark. Also, even though I dig the hotties with the tight shirts, the man created this picture starring six lovely ladies without ever featuring any of them in a wet tanktop or cleavage-bearing shirt, which in this day and age, you also have to respect.
(c) 2018 Berge Garabedian

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