Summer movies are nearing their end for the year and now it’s time for the thrillers/suspense and horror films to be released. With ghosts and Paranormal Activity taking the front page these past years, I thought it would be fun to visit one film that just by the plot sounds like a film that you’d catch on late night cable or perhaps a one-night rental, The Descent. It’s been ten years since this British film arrived in the United States and it sure delivered some terrifying sequences. Writer-director Neil Marshall crafted a brilliant horror film by casting all females which for some reason makes the film all the more better, I’m not sure why but it really does.
The plot is simple and gets to the point rather quickly. A young woman is severely depressed after her family is killed in a car accident and one year later the women reunite to get away from everything to go caving. It should be a relaxing time with some fond memories and maybe even a couple of laughs, right? Well, not so. Juno played by the beautiful Natalie Mendoza decides to take her friends to a cave that has yet to be explored. Only thing, once the women enter the cave, a part of a tunnel collapses trapping them all. Nothing to worry about, a little darkness can’t hurt anybody, right? Well, that depends on who is in the dark. In a terrifying sequence a camera switches to night-vision to see what’s around the group. In one shot that lasts for just a split second, something appears behind one of the women. It’s shocking and I was literally grabbing my chest.
To put it simply, creatures that look human are living in the cave and the women are seen as a threat, or perhaps a tasty treat, no pun intended. A battle of wits and survival ensue offering us powerful performances from the cast and solid direction from Marshall, whose previous film Dog Soldiers was equally terrifying and funny. What makes The Descent work so well is really the atmosphere and the cast. For instance, this film really hit home with me because I’ve been caving twice when I was younger and have experienced people in my group getting stuck in tight places. Needless to say, those particular people were terrified and even tried to attack someone when offered assistance. It was scary and very unnerving.
The Descent brought back those memories and while I didn’t see any creatures during my adventure; the very idea that you are not alone is terrifying enough. Put that same scenario in a cave with the only exit blocked, and well basically, you’re screwed. With these new horror/thriller films being released over the years I feel that while ghosts and apparitions can be scary, nothing hits harder than seeing an actual being coming after you; whether it being a masked killer, some kind of animal, or a creature from the unknown, those particular monsters always give me the chills.
I read once that you can burn up to two-hundred calories by watching a horror film. With The Descent, not only did my heart race but my hands are sweating and by the time I left the theater I felt as if I needed a shower. That’s what a scary movie is supposed to do we need to be scared. We need to be unable to sleep at night wondering if something will get us from under the bed, or come creeping out of the closet.
If you like scary, find a copy of The Descent. Not only will it scare you, but it will leave you feeling as if you’re not watching another stupid monster film. The film is smart, the suspense is white-knuckle, and boy are those monsters the last thing you want to see if you ever decide to step foot into a cave. The Descent makes caves scary for me the same ways Jaws make me cautious about stepping foot into the ocean. Be warned.