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The Descent
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The Descent (2005)

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Plot Summary:
"A group of female friends led by Juno (Natalie Mendoza) encounter bloodthirsty creatures when they get trapped in a mountain cave due to rockfall. Worst of all they their friendships sour and they discover their real fear is from each other."

Review by
Phil Davies Brown
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Review Date: 08 July 2005 My Rating: out of 5


When I found out last month that Neil Marshall had shot the exteriors for his latest film less than an hour from my home, I was kicking myself. I had really enjoyed Dog Soldiers when it was unleashed three years ago and couldn't wait to see this film. Luckily for me I didn't have that long to wait as it kind of leapt out from nowhere only a few months after the production wrapped.

The story follows a group of six 'chicks with picks' as they embark on a pot-holing expedition in the American Appalachians. Led by the fiesty Juno, the ladies soon find themselves trapped in a previously unexplored set of caverns after a cave in. The women begin to panic as it looks like they will never be able to find their way out, but that soon becomes the least of their worries when they are set upon by a pack of bloodthirsty mutated creatures who live deep beneath the ground.

From the get go the beautiful Scottish scenery (I'm not being biased I promise) makes the film a joy to look at, and it quickly draws you into the characters relationships through the simplest of suggestive looks. Tragedy soon strikes and we are treated to a visual metaphor before we then regroup for the descent.

Each of the six women were well cast and were amazing in their respective roles. None of these ladies is weak emotionally or physically and when the shit hits the fan they fight back with spectacular results.

The actors effortlessly convey how strong the characters relationships with one another are and manage to be funny, strong, sexy and smart, even when they are covered in blood sweat and tears.

It's official, Neil Marshall is a horror God! He manages to wring tension out of the audience via an abundance of well executed jump scenes, and also creates a tense claustrophobic atmosphere.

The film is also very gory, but is never excessively graphic even though it boasts such delights as an animal pit, an underground pool full of blood and guts, jugular slashing, pick smashing, eye gouging, nail splitting and bone snapping terror.

The film perfectly balances humour with horror and is exceptionally well lit with every light having a believable source such as flares, torches, headlamps and even a DV cam, which ultimately allows Marshall the chance to play around with audience expectations and fear of the dark.

Whilst most people had pinned high hopes on 'Creep' being the film to reinvent the British horror movie, I'm afraid that that particular film pales in comparison to this effort, as unlike the aforementioned film, Marshall still manages to make his well executed monsters terrifyingly real long after they've come out of the shadows. The monsters also make up for the very good, yet still not entirely believeable CGI effects which are used sparingly in an early part of the film.

It's tense, claustrophobic, scary, gory, and highly unpredictable. A smart horror movie worthy of it's 18 certificate. You'll jump, scream, laugh and cry, and the unpredictable ending is even more surprising than you'll first anticipate.

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