directed by Neil Marshall
The Descent is a film about a group of diverse, adventure seeking women who, in an effort to cheer up one of their own (Sarah), go out in the Appalachian mountains to explore caves after the shocking death of Sarah’s husband and daughter. What’s wrong with a pint of ice cream or some therapy I don’t know, but to each her own. The Descent is not only a horror film it is also an interesting examination of the different types of relationships women have with each other and the deeply routed politics and parameters within those relationships. I am of two minds about this film because it is essentially two films. The first half is a tense drama about a group of women trying to survive in a dangerous situation when they find that they are in fact exploring a new cave system and there is a cave-in cutting them off from the surface. The second half is a frightening monster film.
The Descent is thrilling and scary, but I enjoy the first half so much I really wish I could see the conclusion of that film sans monsters. That being said, we have the film we have, and The Descent taps into a lot of our very real fears. Claustrophobia is an obvious one. The women have to crawl and squeeze their through some really tight spots all with the hope that the tunnels will lead them to the surface and safety. Anyone who has been in a cave with no lights on knows the truest definition of darkness. After the cave-in their batteries become even more precious. They also have a very real reason to fear the dark; the monsters they encounter have bat-like sonar and thrive in the dark. All this leads to another obvious fear, ‘the thing that goes bump in the dark’. All these things combine to make an intense thriller. If you have only seen one of the two ending of this film I suggest you seek out the alternative because both endings are satisfying in very different ways.