It’s not very often that a film like The Descent comes your way. It’s not the glorious realistic gore, or the totally spooky creepy killer creatures, but the sheer beauty, the look and feel of the film, its emotions and deep well rounded characters with strong history and grounding.
Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) is involved in a disastrous car accident after spending time with her outdoor, thrill seeking friends. The accident results in her husband and 5 year old daughters death. A year later, the friends meet up again, Sarah still fragile but taking the first big step to get her life back in order. Juno (Natalie Mendoza) has something special planned: Underground cave climbing. As expected, things go wrong, which leaves the small team of girls trapped. Searching for another way out, they soon discover they are not alone.
The film works on so many levels. It’s basically, Hills Have Eyes but with a difference. The monsters here are so creepy: White spooky blind things with sharp teeth, living in the dark of the caves. The idea of an entire female cast is something of a ground breaking moment in the horror genre, this paired with the whole subject matter of thrill seeking outdoors types just strengthens the originality.
The characters as mentioned, are deep and enjoyable with instant connectivity, a real click with the audience. This is one of the films strong points which allows the viewer to feel the emotion and trauma with the girls as they struggle with the cave beasts, getting picked off one by one, but for every moment, you are there with them, clinging to what little hope is felt. The conflict between Sarah and Juno is beautiful too with a conflict of feelings and a hidden secret. The moment of revelation is one of finest moments in this film, which leads to an unthinkable, yet realistic, reaction, accepted by both girls.
The gore is good too. It’s fast and vicious mostly a defensive reaction to being attacked by the white beast men, using pickaxes and knives. The beasts don’t let up too, fighting and biting. One of the early scenes have Juno fighting over the body of her friend as one of these beasts tries to pull the body into its lair. An amazing scene.
This film has been named ‘the scariest British film in 20 years.’ I’d find it difficult to argue against this quote. It’s terrifying due to circumstance. The claustrophobia, darkness, isolation, haunting memories, killing beasts and unfaithful friends, leaving all hope behind, despair, longing and loneliness. This is a unique experience and one you will certainly enjoy. Stunning.