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August 2006

The Descent

By Wilson Morales

The Descent

Distributor: Lionsgate Films
Director: Neil Marshall
Screenwriter: Neil Marshall
Cinematographer: Sam McCurdy
Composer: David Julyan
Cast: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Burning, and Nora-Jane Noone



As the saying goes, “There aren’t that many scripts in Hollywood”. Everything is a repeat of something from the past or an updated version to reflect modern times, yet filmmakers go out of their way to make it “different”. However they make it, it’s still the same “ten little indians” rule where in the end, we have “and then there was one” that stands out. With “The Descent”, director Neil Marshall tries the same theory but instead makes the cast virtually all-female which hasn’t been done on the big screen in a long while. This is definitely a film worth watching. It’s creepy, frightening and will make one definitely afraid of the dark.

As the film starts, Sarah is rafting with her buddies Juno (Mendoza) and Beth (Reid) while her husband and daughter watch from the side. As Sarah and family head back to the hotel, an accident occurs that leaves Sarah devastated. One year later and set in the Appalachian Mountains, North Carolina, Beth takes Sarah to meet other friends, Sam (Burning), Holly (Noone), and Rebecca (Mulder) as they get set to hike and explore new adventures in a cave. The ladies see this trip as a fresh start for Sarah as she still has nightmares about the accident. When Juno takes the group out of range to an undiscovered cave, she see this as an opportunity to explore new charters in their venture and be the first to claim it, patents and all. What they don’t realize is that every venture has challenges and here it comes in the form of creatures who aim to kill. As the group struggle to stay alive, tensions mount amongst them and situations are set up where the end justifies the means.

Marshall has the created the ultimate horror film with substance. This isn’t your ordinary slasher film we’ve seen in the past where it’s all about the bodycount and gore of the film. He’s brought in a unique situation where you feel for some of the characters whose actions are morally suspect, yet you root for them to stay alive. At the same time, he keeps the suspense level to the max, making you guess as when the action or death scene will occur, especially when injuries, and being left alone occurs. In a movie like this, we know everyone won’t make it out, it’s just a matter of how they die and how they live. The cinematography is perfectly set up with dim lighting and the use of torches and glowsticks. As for the women, the one stand out is Juno, played by Mendoza. She plays the character as tough as they come and she definitely know the rules of Darwin’s theory, “Survival of the fittest”. Folks may see this film as another version of last year’s summer film, “The Cave”, because of it’s striking similarities, but believe me when I say this is the better film. “The Cave” was clear cut in its story, the same as all other horror film. With “The Descent”, you get to root, scream, and think with the group as to how to get out of the terror within.