Director: Neil Marshall
Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza
("Moulin Rouge"), Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder ("The
Beach"), Nora Jane Noone ("The Magdalene Sisters"),
RunTime: 1 hr 39 mins
Released By: Shaw & Festive Films
Rating: M18 (Violence & Gore)
Official Website: http://www.festivefilms.com/thedescent
Opening Day: 8 December 2005
"The Descent" follows an all-female cast who play
extreme sports enthusiats going on their annual vacation trip.
During this daredevil caving holiday, the six girls are trapped
underground when an unexpected rock-fall blocks their exit.
Searching the maze of tunnels for a way out, they find themselves
hunted by a race of fearless, hungry predators, once humanoid
but now monstrously adapted to live in the dark.
It’s like déjà vu all over again. Wasn’t
there a horror movie about cave explorers encountering monsters
deep inside a cave recently?
movie, “The Cave” and this movie “The Descent”
shared similar premises that would make one wonder if that
is the new copying trend in horror movie. But from those who
had seen both “The Cave” and “The Descent”,
it seems that “The Descent” a UK production helmed
by Neil Marshall (director of Dog Soldiers) is better woven
in terms of storytelling and scare factors.
Descent” tells the tale of a group of female extreme
sports enthusiasts on a cave-exploring trip. It all goes horribly
wrong when they chose the wrong path and soon fall into the
path of creepy cave dwellers on the prowl.
the first half of the movie, it seems like an enticing advertisement
for a caving adventure. The lush landscape of country, repelling
down the cave with a mini waterfall by the side and the wriggling
through tiny rock tunnels makes one feel like packing the
bag and signing up with the nearest caving adventure group.
comes the second half of the movie, filled with tense moments
and carnage makes you think otherwise. As the movie delves
further and further into the caves, the maiming events start
occurring in a frenzy until it is literally a bloodbath inside
the deep caves.
psychological factor in this film brings fear to whole new
level. Its unbearable claustrophobia is amazingly realized
at times and the sense of having nowhere to escape envelops
these 6 explorers. The idea that they are trapped in a cave
that is still unknown to the rest of the world outside also
means that would not be any rescue team coming for them amplifies
the instinctive urge for their own survival.
two most memorable ladies in this film are the mentally fragile
Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) who is still overcoming a recent
family tragedy and the adrenaline junkie Juno (Natalie Medoza)
who has got a thing or two to hide. Natalie bears a resemblance
to Lucy Liu and possesses the fierce determination while fighting
off the creepy dwellers is the perfect reminder of the Sigourney
Weaver’s Ripley character in the “Alien”
Franchise. Shauna also did a convincing job as the poor Sarah
who just survived a tragedy and is now trapped in forsaken
cave with creepy predators hunting her and her friends, easily
drawing out the compassion from the audiences, creating a
certain hope that she will be able to survive this ordeal.
Overall the essence of being in a cave was well captured in
this film. The use of glow stick and flares to illuminate
the cave was a wonderful change from the usual lightings we
see from other studios. “The Descent” applied
effective lighting techniques that heightened the tension
of what lies beyond the darkness of the caves. One of the
best uses of the night vision function of a video camera in
a movie provided this film with one of its biggest shock.
Inventive angles were also used to capture the claustrophobic
setting in a cave (Such as the crawling tiny tunnels sequences).
But like all human made films, flaws will still exist. One
of the few flaws would be the poorly animated computer generated
images (CGI). It is not that there is a lot of CGI effects
used in this film but After “Batman Begins”, the
poorly animated bats were more embarrassingly funny than scary.
And then there is the defect of having 2 characters too many.
The number of explorers could have been trimmed to 4 and the
pacing would have picked up faster. But then again, these
are minor complaints that will not really affect the viewing
of this show.
“The Descent” is a particularly atmospheric horror
film that would be more effective if it was played out in
a very dark theater with fantastic surround sounds. I had
never seen Neil Marshall’s “Dog Soldiers”
before but after watching The Descent, I would like to find
a copy of his previous work as soon as possible and see if
he is the new director to watch out for.
(“The Descent” into a cave filled with great abundances
of gore, brilliantly claustrophobic cinematography and intensive
by Richard Lim Jr