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The Best of 2006: 'The Descent'

The Descent

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Another film like End of the Spear that was finished in 2005 (in the UK) before it was released in America, The Descent is probably one of the best horror films to have come out in a long time. Unlike many recent films like Saw or Hostel that pride themselves in gratuitous torture and shameless remakes of classics like Dawn of the Dead and The Hills Have Eyes, The Descent is a film (an English produced one too) that actually has some pretty fresh ideas (there was another film earlier this year called The Cave which this film knocks flat on its backside) while still paying homage in a way that doesn't insult a filmmaker's previous work. In this case, The Descent is very much similar to the original Ridley Scott directed classic, Alien.

The story is not the same, but its smart jack-in-the-box style (there are two kinds of good horror films: psychological and jack-in-the-box and if it isn't either it probably doesn't know what it's doing as a film) with a lot of psychological elements placed give a lot of the things horror has been sorely lacking for a number of years: delicateness. Earlier horror films often held back on the incredible gore and blood till the actual kill as this film does. Today, the norm is how much can we gross out the audience? But I digress, The Descent is about a group of adventurous women seeking to find the ultimate thrill by cave diving (which turn out to be unexplored caves) and trying to find their way out by their own ingenuity. Like Alien, you can't just get simply get out of the caves like those people who couldn't just leave the spaceship. Inside these caves are cannibalistic creatures who don't seem to carry much explanation for their existence, but that isn't the point of the film (one theory if you want is that they are humans that have been trapped in the caves for years that have evolved over long periods of time to live in the cave, ergo why they are blind and ravenous at anything that moves, but that's my fun theory).

Though these girls might be a little too good looking, they get pretty unglamorous looking when the horror starts. It's very nice to see virtually a female cast which is very much the opposite of another horror classic with a similar design, John Carpenter's The Thing with all men.