The Descent (2005)
Reviewed on 2006 August 23
This was the first movie to give me sweaty palms since The Shining. It’s also not the best time to find out your claustrophobic, but I’ll get into that later.
A group of adventurous women are into extreme sports like white water rafting and caving, until the circle of friends is rocked by a terrible event. One of their own is devastated, and they want to help her recover by treating her to a weekend of serious potholing. They know it will help her. (As we find out in the movie, it’s good to really know your friends.) After a nice character introduction where the director gets the audience to like pretty much like everyone, they trek to a creepy-looking orifice in the Appalachians. This cave, while cool-looking, was also just nasty-looking from the outset, and without giving anything away, I would have taken the suggestion offered earlier by one of the women to forget it and just sit in the cabin sipping beer.
It’s best to see some movies knowing as little about them as possible, and this is such a movie. The women have to deal with each other, the cave (and here’s where I learned that I am somewhat claustrophobic; some very tense scenes) and … nah, you’re going to have to see it. It’s tradition to see most scary movies at night, but it’s kind of fun to pick a sunny day to see this one, so you can pop into the bright sunlight when it’s all over. I knew the sun was blazing outside and I didn’t care. I still grabbed my husband’s arm several times. The film is dark in places, but you can see enough to know that this is a nightmare and you wouldn’t wish this trip on your worst enemy.
Neil Marshall knows how to kick his audience in the gut. You feel like you got to know these women, and you didn’t know who was going to make it, but you wanted all of them to. Of course, this being a horror movie, we can’t have that.
If someone blabbed the ending to you, it’s still worth seeing, just for the cinematography and the acting. Then tell them about a cool little cave you found…
I give The Descent three gooey chocolate morsels.