Released 08/04/2005 Rated: R
I just don’t understand how everyone is raving about this movie. My husband and I are constantly looking at different lists of good horror movies to watch during the month of October, and The Descent is on many of them. So we finally watched it, and we were not impressed.
There were a few reality-based things that took me out of the movie. The first was that these women were running around in tank tops and capris from the beginning. I can believe that it’s warmer in the caves than outside, as I have gone caving in December, but really? With all the climbing and scaling over the rough terrain that they’re going to be doing, and pretty much the only protective gear any of them have is just a helmet? The second thing that really bothered me was that by the end of the movie, I think all but two of them no longer have their helmets. That’s just kinda stupid.
One thing they did do, though, was figure out their lighting. The filmmakers were like “All these girls have is a flare, that’s how we have to light the scene.” That’s literally what they use throughout the film: the headlamps, flares, matches, and the camcorder’s night vision. The dark is a powerful presence, and these women have been swallowed by it.
I loved the fact that it was an all female cast; you don’t see that very often. They were all strong women. No one was whiny, with the exception of Sarah’s freakout moments, but she’s excused because she’s been through a traumatic experience. However, I didn’t really get attached to any of the characters.
The crawlers were not scary, and that’s fine, but make me scared of them. I can totally believe that they were once humans who never made it out and have evolved to survive down there; more so, anyway, than the changes they made in The Descent Part 2, where they are more bat-like in the face. There were enough crawlers to justify the amount of bones all over the place, but I felt there were too many that could actually be living down there. How are they all surviving without killing each other? Where did all the bones come from? They can’t all belong to climbers; someone would have noticed if that many people are disappearing from the caves.
My only real problem with the movie as a whole was the descent. It was both a literal descent into the caves, and a mental descent into madness. In terms of Sarah, I felt like a switch was flipped. One minute she’s at point A, the next she’s at point B; there was no journey. I liked that they didn’t explicitly go into certain underlying issues that would have been her journey, but you could still pick up on it. Like something going on between Juno and Sarah’s husband. But the rest of it, the friction on their friendships, was done well with them all scattering to the winds at first sign of trouble.
There was an alternate ending strictly for the US release. It just cuts off the last scene, which [SPOILER ALERT] shows that Sarah didn’t actually make it out of the cave. We saw the original cut, and I’d have to say, I like that one so much better. In fact, it was my favorite scene in the whole movie. There’s just something in the look on Sarah’s face as you realize she’s hallucinating about her daughter; I found it awesome and even satisfying. She’s a completely different person now from when she first entered the cave. Why are we as Americans always in need of a happy ending? (Which I wouldn’t necessarily call the US version a happy ending.) It’s a horror movie for crying out loud. It’s okay if no one makes it out.