Monday, April 23, 2012

The Descent

The Descent; adventure thriller/ horror, UK, 2005; D: Neil Marshall, S: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid

Six women - Juno, Sarah, Beth, Sam, Rebbecca and Holly - go camping in the nature. They descend into an unexplored pit, but once their entrance caves in, they start a search through the corridors to find a new exit. At one point, they encounter strange "cave people" who start attacking them. One by one they are killed, until only Sarah is left. She has a vision of exiting the cave, but it just remains at that.

A straight-forward adventure until the "horror twist" some 50 minutes into the film, Neil Marshall's "The Descent" gains a few plus points by trying to be a 'feminist horror', a refreshing departure from the genre, almost achieving an idyllic balance between the (almost) exclusive all-female cast who battle an (almost) exclusive all-male monster "cave-people" - the balance is disrupted by inserting Sarah's husband in an unnecessary opening and a female "cave woman" - yet other than that, the story is problematic in this pessimistic film. Marshall has a few ideas in how to twist the cliches, yet on other occasion he again fell pray to some of the more obvious examples in the genre (cheap scares instead of sophistication; dumbing violence; bland dialogue and thin character development), even though the corridors in the underground cave, where the women get trapped, provided for a (slightly broadened) 'kammerspiel' that slowly heightens the suspense. A more or less satisfying scary story, unfortunately again with a few primitive-backward ideas that bloated the movie as a whole.


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