Review: the Descent (2005)

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The Descent is a decent horror flick about a group of women who go on an annual cave diving expedition, end up lost and abandoned and then find they are not alone in the deep dark but are in fact being hunted by underground albino, blind, humanoid monsters.  descent monster


The film works very well a terrifying it’s audience because it has many different, yet equally frightening tools of fear within its near two hour running time.  The first is a unique one, an all female cast, even though that fact is in my opinion as a horror aficionado also one of its most annoying flaws.  It is an unspoken rule in the realm of the horror film genre for at least one scene of gratuitous nudity, and yet in this film, even with a cast of five different female characters, there is none, not even a quick underwear or show scene.  Now I understand why, the director wanted to create and maintain five strong female role model Ellen Riply like characters, facing an alien monster unknown threat without diminishing their independent, strong willed characters, by showing unnecessary skin.  I get it but even still I consider the lack of any exposed flesh a dubious flaw just on principle.

The second major error in the film is actually the use of the blind humanoid monsters near the end of the film.  The whole movie masterfully uses the fear, isolation and danger inherent in cave diving mixed with the female cast emotionally driven character to creat an almost overwhelming, nail biting, claustrophobia of unrelenting dread and terror.  Once the monster finally appear in the last twenty minutes of the film, they are almost an after throught and, except for creating antagonists for a sequel are a bit underwhelming and seem only to be added for the sake of traditional scares and gore.  Not to say I did not enjoy them, they work well, they just caused the film to go from a slick unique psychological horror film and revert it into a traditional monster movie gore fest.  The film would have been fine even if they had only showed up in the last ten minutes only, the suspense and pounds of terror created simply by the female cast and the horror of their situation, lost and alone miles underground was enough in and of itself.  Check out this clip and tell me you don’t start to hold your breath and dig you fingers into your seat…