Horror Movie Matters #7: The Descent 2005 Dir. Neil Marshall

#7: The Descent 2005 Dir. Neil Marshall

The Descent can essentially be described as two films. The first tells the story about a group of spelunkers, exploring a cave system and becoming lost in the bowels of the earth. The second film involves the monsters they encounter while underground. The Descent does a brilliant job of immediately drawing you in to the drama of these character's lives, so that by the time the horror happens, you're emotionally invested in their safety. Despite there being monsters in the depth of the earth, this film's main source of horror comes from the claustrophobic feeling of the caves. While I'm not a claustrophobe, I found many of these scenes incredibly unsettling. As if the horrors of being lost in an undiscovered cave system weren't enough, by the time we get to the "bat-beings", I was floored. This film mixes intimate relationship drama with the supernatural and achieves levels of terror rare in most modern horror films. This film only briefly reflects some of it's predecessors and therefore we do get shades of Predator and The Texas Chainsaw Massacre. However, this film spins a tale all its own and makes the audience ride the edge of their seat for two thirds of the movie. I also have to praise this film for it's ensemble cast of strong female characters. This cast is a great departure from many of the misogynistic horror films of the past and gives us a group of characters that are smart and capable. The Descent is a fresh horror film, that takes us places we haven't been before, both in content and tone.

Note: If you watch this film, watch the international version with the original ending. This version is better than the jump-scare malarkey of the U.S. ending.