Those who have fond memories of 2002’s breakthrough werewolf hit Dog Soldiers will already know that Neil Marshall isn’t kidding around when it comes to directing a great movie. This is a man with a passion for film who is going to go the distance to bring the audience what it wants. This time, the director brings us a wholly new tale that he shot in Scotland, near his native isle of Britain. By mixing a gripping story, excellent cinematic vision and an all female cast, Marshall has once again made a movie that is definitely going to offer something truly different to mix of horror films that have been coming out in recent years.
In The Descent, we have the story of six women who are out on a caving expedition in the Appalachian mountains. Tragedy strikes early on and they eventually find that their trip into the dark recesses of the earth is going to be a lot more difficult than they had initially planned for. Once they’re a couple miles down into the cave, the inevitable cave in traps them and from here on out it is going to be a very claustrophobic and highly deadly derailed train to hell. Being buried alive is definitely fearsome enough, but when underground cave dwelling former humans mutated beyond all recognition arrive to feast on the living? Well, that just makes things a wee bit more tense. Think Lord of the Ring’s gollum gone horribly wrong.
From beginning to end, The Descent is one of those horror films that really does earn its keep as far as providing seriously white knuckle fear. Whether it’s the claustrophobic conditions or the darkness or perhaps those creepily evolved “people”, this is definitely not a movie for those who don’t like a little gore on the side. While it doesn’t rely on carnage to convey the terror, there’s certainly no great shortage of blood and guts. Marshall does not deal lightly with the cast and as a result, we’ve got an innovative survival horror that is going to please those who are fans of this genre.
The impressive thing here is that the whole movie was shot on a set in Scotland. It really does feel like a subterranean environment and you definitely don’t think about the set design although the monsters are a bit low budget. Considering that this film didn’t have a big budget to work with, it’s something of a triumph to be able to convey this much fright for so few pounds sterling. The small cast works to the advantage of the director, even though the majority of the characters are not exactly folks you’ll remember for years to come.
At its core, The Descent delivers what you expected to see coming in and that’s definitely a strong mark. It’s a solid movie that horror fans can enjoy and it’s definitely worth seeing the original ending as well as the American version.
For fear in the dark, The Descent takes things just about as low as they’ll go doesn’t let up until the credits roll.