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“The Descent” was easily one of the best horror films released last year, and American audiences are finally going to get a chance to see this one at theatres come August 4th. You see, shortly after this mini-masterpiece was being released across the pond in the UK, we got the reportedly horrible Hollywood film “The Cave” (never seen it myself). Both films are about cave diving, but I can assure, “The Descent” doesn’t suck. In fact it is one of the few modern horror films that goes beyond entertainment, into being frightening. One like this doesn’t come along like this too often folks, so do yourself a favor and watch it on the big screen.
“The Descent” centers around a group of female thrill seekers. Every year they get together to go Mountain Climbing, White Water Rafting, or Caving. This year their trip is a little different, because one of the pack, Sarah, is recovering from the death of her Husband and Child. Things start off as expected as they enter the system of caves, they converse, get drunk, have fun, but soon after entering the cave, events turn against them.. First, the cave shifts as they travel through it, cutting off the way they entered in through. Next, they find out they are not alone in the cave, and sadly for our heroines, their company isn’t real friendly. Gore and Scares ensue.
The cave has all the right elements required for a great horror film. Excellent direction, atmosphere, isolation, and great creatures. The creatures are called Crawlers, and are thankfully not CGI. The look like to a horror version of Gollum. The film is packed with some truly creepy moments, and thanks to the skilled use of limited lighting, the tension never lets up. Anyone who saw Director Neil Marshall’s first feature “Dog Soldiers” know that the man can build up relentless tension, but “The Descent” goes far beyond Marshall’s first attempt. This one doesn’t include any humor to lightening the mood, and once you hit the ˝ hour mark, it becomes an intense ride where the characters are free game to become creature chow. With practically no natural light in the cave scenes, we are forced to watch the action as our heroines, or victims see it. Night Vision Video Cameras, Phosphorus in the Rock, Flashlights, and Flairs light up the foreboding cave just enough to give you a hint at what is coming, but it never enough to make you feel safe.
As great as this film is, originality is not its strong point. Don’t expect a horror film that will redefine your definition of terror. Instead, expect a horror film that takes material you may have seen before, but presents it in such a way that it makes you forget its family tree. It’s similar to Alien and Aliens in many ways, and though it isn’t quite on par with those releases, it’s close. It does bring enough to the table that no self-respecting horror fan should miss it. I have watched it 3 times, and I am planning on seeing it again when it hits theatres because it is that good.
This is my least favorite part of reviewing movies. Thankfully I do not have to do it very often, but this is one of those times where it is unavoidable. My fellow American movie watcher, the Hollywood thinks we are special, and I don’t mean “Superman” kind of special. This review is based off of the Region 2 (UK) 2 Disc DVD release (It is an awesome DVD with great extras for those of you with a Region Free Player), which contains “The Descent” as it was originally created. When it hits our theatres August 4th, it will contain at least one change that I know of. The last scene, which in my opinion, creates a more powerful film, will be removed. I know why it was changed, but it doesn’t make much sense to me. It changes the movies aftertaste, but not the actual theme. Is it a Mistake? To me it is, but I will watch it in the theater, and wait to make an official statement at that time. I will update this review at that time. (Check imdb.com for more info on the change)
So, what we have here is a great horror film that stands up to repeated viewings. It manages to be scary and intense, and though it is not innovative, it does what it does with a level of excellence rare in horror films. Should you see it? Yes. I give this one my gushing approval. This is the real deal folks, don’t miss it. 4 Cans.
Added: Wednesday, July 05, 2006
Language: eng[ Did you find this review helpful? Yes No ]
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