February 29, 2012 by Matthew T.
Written & Directed By: Neil Marshall
When we entered a new decade I found myself getting a tad retrospective, and began going over the horror films from the past ten years. I’ll admit that at first, I thought that the years spanning from 2000-2009 offered very little with respect to the horror genre. The whole process ultimately resulted in my writing a “Best of the Decade” article, which forced me to delve a bit deeper into the tomes of horror history. Happily, I am able to report that it was a pleasant stroll down memory lane, and there were a number of horror films from the above mentioned years that had eluded my immediate recollection. One of those such films is none other than the horror gem: “The Descent.”
I remember watching the film for the first time — it was during a point in which I was out of the loop in terms of hearing the latest horror gossip and movie buzz (there were a rough patch where my internet speed was unfortunately reduced to that of dial-up, which aside from being really retro was just a frustrating experience when it came to using the internet). Thus, when I found myself with a copy of the film, I had no idea what to expect, or even what the gist of the film even was. It looked interesting (I mean, just look at that fantastic Dali recreation on the movie poster!), and that was enough to get me to pick it up in the first place.
To this day, I consider “The Descent” to be one of the most pleasant surprises of the past decade. It, along with films such as High Tension, are excellent examples of the new style and trend that the modern horror film is taking. Unrepentently bloody, fierce, shocking, atmospheric, utterly tense, and above all well-made. The darkness and grim pessimism that pervades throughout is what makes “The Descent” so great and yet so very depressing to watch at the same time. The claustrophobic environment, tight angles, and fear of what lurks in the darkness are the elements that contribute to a high tension film — be warned, it’s impossible to not watch this film from the edge of your seat.
Boasting an almost entirely female cast, “The Descent” tells the tale of a group of thrillseeking women who get their dose of adrenalyne by exploring deep dark caves. As we all know as horror fans, the setting for a film can literally make or break a movie; thus, what better setting for a hororr movie than deep underground — a lightless labyrinth where there is danger at every turn. The women are warned before entering the cave: the prolonged exposure to the darkness can lead to disorientation, dizziness, claustrophobia, and even hallucinations. If one cannot even trust their own eyes, one is left to wonder how many of the horrors that wait in the darkness are truly real…
As horror loving people, we know that there are truly feel good horror films — movies like “Halloween”, and “Friday the 13th”. While I whole-heartedly recommend “The Descent”, I simply tell you: don’t expect to feel good after watching this film.
…and stay the hell away from caves…