A Rant about the Descent

Posted by Peter Hall - February 6th 2006 @ 8:08 pm

For the past 8 or so months people all over the net have been going apeshit over The Descent, Neil Marshall’s followup to the mediocre-but-loved Dog Soldiers. I don’t care if someone likes a movie I don’t or vice versa. I realize all taste is subjective. But when I read review after review stating that The Descent is the best horror movie of the last 5 years, something needs to be said. Why does the Descent suck? Go read any positive review of it and just imagine the inverse of every claim they make in it and you’ll have finally read an accurate review of the movie. Actually, I’ll do it for you. I’ll run down a list of everything that people love about the movie and tell you why its lies. But first a synopsis, just so you know what its about: A group of women who love going on extreme adventures end up trapped in a cave which is inhabitated by ancient and violent humanoid creatures. Gah. Characters: I hear over and over that the characters in the movie really make it something special. That they’re interesting, well developed and you feel for all of them. All Lies. The characters are BORING. They’re all unrealistically attractive for a group of women who go mountain climbing for kicks. This is no dig at sex relations, its just the way things are. I watched the Eco-Challenge all the time as a kid and there wasn’t a single group of competitors who looked like these women do, until the last year when there was a Playboy team as a gimick. They were eliminated from the race and rightfully so, but I guess that must have been the only year’s challenge that Neil Marshall saw, because he thinks adventurers wear makeup into a cave. Only two or three of them are ever given any real identity. I only remember one name from the movie, Juno, and that isn’t because I saw it months ago, its because their names don’t matter. I didn’t remember any of their names 45 minutes into it when they first started dying. And I only remember Juno from reading so many felating reviews of this generic horror flick. Script: Even if you want to ignore the dumb cast of characters, the script is still a yawn. First off, the whole reason they end up in the cave is because Juno, some random chic from the countryside of the UK, happens to be the only person on earth who knows the exact location of a completely unknown and unexplored cave system in the middle of backwoods South Carolina. Ya-fuckin-right. Just make ’em stumble onto a new tunnel in a cave. That’s at least slightly more believable. The deaths are boring. I only remember one from the movie and that’s because it was silly, not because it was original. None of the characters have any agency. They only action they take is the obvious, "get out of the cave". Otherwise they’re just bumbling around, waiting to die. The Creatures: As a guy I know online put, the creatures do look like LOTR leftovers. They have nice movement to them, but other than that they’re fairly unimpressive. I will admit when they are finally revealed full frame, it is a kick ass moment, but other than that they’re just an afterthought in design. The Scares: The only scares this movie has are jump scares caused by someone backing into a creature or a creature popping into the negative space of the frame. That isn’t original at all. If I can do it to someone in my basement, it isn’t scary. I’ve read non-stop that the first 45 minutes are some of the most claustrophobic 45 minutes of film ever. Are you kidding me? Its set in a damn cave! Its impossible to not make it claustrophobic. Have the people reviewing this movie never seen a cave or something? That’s like thanking the ocean for being wet. Dumb. Marshall even goes so far as to repeatedly rip-off the now generationally iconic shots from the Alien franchise in which the creatures blur past tunnel openings. Homage is fine, but when you’re lifting a shot that is so famous it has appeared on the Simpsons more than once you’re just kicking your own ass for not being creative.

Neil Marshall has proven with The Descent that he knows horror films better than most of us as he has taken us for a ride that we’ll never forget. This film will go down as one of the best horror films in the past few years and I believe it will stand the test of time, which many horror films cannot do. When you walk outside the theater after The Descent, that first breathe of fresh air you suck in will never have been so sweet.

Bloody Disgusting can never be trusted to accuartely review a movie, but that paragraph is just a joke. Knows horror films better than most of us? No, he just knows Alien well enough to set it in a cave. That is all this movie is. A fanboys cave version of Alien. The crew of the Nostromo have been replaced with clones of Ripley and the violent and irrational robotic Ian Holm who freaks out and tries to kill the crew has been replaced by the human Juno who freaks out and tries to kill her friends. The xenomorphs are made humanoid and thats that. When it gets its American theatrical release later this year, please don’t buy into the advertising this movie will surely get. I gurantee the American promotional material will be absolutely plastered with bullshit flattery. Mark my words, there will be more endorsements in the ads for this movie than footage of the movie itself. Don’t believe a word of it.

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