Random Movie Review: The Descent



Yes, very random, but that’s the point. I was browsing my channels Saturday night and I came upon a movie I love, Rob Zombie’s House of 1000 Corpses, I scanned ahead to see what was going to follow and IFC essentially put together a really good scary triple feature. Following Zombie’s twisted debut was the gory torture flick Hostel. Even though I knew about the whole “Achilles heel” thing, I watched it unfold and then I quickly turned the channel. I had a friend visiting and all she could say was “it (the torture) only gets worse.”

The bookend of this horror trilogy was a movie I see often late at night on IFC. I first saw The Descent with two of my best friends when it was released in 2006 and I have to say it’s one of the most unusual horror films I’ve ever seen. I think caves are cool, but I doubt I will ever explore one again, and that includes Mammoth Cave. Leave to the Brits to deter another trip through “Fat Man’s Misery” for me. The film begins with a happy family white water rafting trip, and as the happy family is headed home, there’s a car accident and Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) loses her husband and daughter. Two of Sarah’s fellow cavers, Juno (Natalie Mendoza) and Beth (Alex Reid) were also part of the rafting trip, which doesn’t seem important until almost the end of the movie.

So one year after Sarah’s traumatic experience, she meets up with Juno, Beth, Sam (MyAnna Buring), and a new friend Holly (Nora-Jane Noone) in the Appalachians in the states for a little reminiscing and girl time. And what better way to spend girl time than to repel into a deep, dark cave. This is all, I guess, to cheer Sarah up. She has NO idea! If being in a dark cave (seriously, do batteries last that long?!?) isn’t scary enough, the creatures the ladies encounter are one of a kind. If you have ever been to Mammoth Cave, and you take the “Historic Tour”, near the beginning of the journey, all of the lights are turned off on the path and in the cave and your guide puts on a little torch throwing demonstration. Okay, I’m not sure the torch is thrown, but it’s kind of scary.

Now I only watched bits and pieces of The Descent the other night, but it all came back to me. No natural light, one of the girls breaks her legs and the others decide to crudely splint it, and there’s a bone sticking out. One of the girls gets a pick right through the jugular, it’s a bloody mess. After most of the party is eaten up by the creatures, one of the ladies determines these perhaps former humans, are totally blind, like bats, and therefore they move and they attack by their sense of sound. My friend made a funny comment that you close your eyes and only listen to it, it sounds like a porno. She wasn’t all that off theory. I was surprised to learn in the original cut of the film, Sarah doesn’t make it alive out of the cave; she only hallucinates that she does. Yes, the ultimate survivor, she crawls bloodied and battered out of the cave, is the only one left at the end of the film and I wouldn’t necessarily consider it a happy ending.

It’s original and I would watch it again and again. Grade: A-