Review: The Descent

Posted by Peter Hall - March 16th 2006 @ 2:22 pm

Directed by Neil Marshall, 2005. Review originally written 11-07-05

What a freaking headache.

I’m not the worldest biggest fan of Dog Soldiers, I think it is a decent enough flick, but I thought buzz was very solid about The Descent

Maybe it was, the movie is a piece though. From the get go it is very trying. The characters were resoundingly uninteresting and wooden, not to mention unrealistic. I’ve met a good deal of women in my short life span, dare I even say a good deal of very attractive women, but not a single one that is not only very attractive, but a mountain climbing, white water craving, spelunker. Seriously, Neil Marshall, cast some people who at least fit the bill. This is in no way a dig at women by saying they typically don’t seek the extreme ‘sports’ or me saying that one who does has to be ugly. If you’re going to have a movie that abandons realism in regards to the plot, you either need to have painfully real characters or monumentally absurd ones.

But not only are the characters wildly unrelateable, they’re barely given any development and introduction. Once people start dying, save for the two or three who did get something that resembled an introduction, you can barely tell who is actually dying – they’re all the same.

I’m no geologist, but I do know that there are still an unknown amount of caves to be discovered. But why in hell would some random chic, who of course has zero backstory, have knowledge of a cave that no one else has ever explored? That just doesn’t make any fucking sense.

The camera work was only half inspired and often times just annoying. Not to mention the score that just stabs sharply at the brain. Bah!

The only, only, place this film exceeds is with the creatures. They’re crafted and introduced with a skill and understanding of how to do so that isn’t evident in any other aspect of the film. They look great and move fantastically. But that is about as far as they go and as far as the movie goes.

I have to go take some Tylenol.


rss 18 comments
  1. March 24th, 2006 | 9:51 am | #1

    Funny, i found it way better then “Dead Alive”, which you gave a positive review. Sure, “The Descent” is far from the terrifying tale it could have been, but to me it’s the most descent straight horrorflick i’ve seen since “28 Days Later”.

  2. March 24th, 2006 | 9:51 am | #2

    Damn, i meant “Dead Birds” instead of “Dead Alive”.

  3. March 24th, 2006 | 10:30 am | #3

    Yah, I really should bump this up to watchable. It is, I think I just gave it a bad out of spite since it had gotten such unanimous word of mouth and didn’t come close to it for me.

  4. June 27th, 2008 | 4:11 pm | #4

    One of the best old-fashioned style thrillers in years. Thought you would have loved this one, for sure.

    I haven’t seen a film that built tension as well as this in a while. Of course, I usually watch The Happy Little Elves in Tinkly-Winkly Land.

  5. June 27th, 2008 | 4:17 pm | #5

    You know what Sedai, just for you, I’m going to watch this again.

    I’ll hate you for it.

  6. Sean
    June 28th, 2008 | 1:01 am | #6

    Don’t do it, Peter. Watching The Descent is like watching a train wreck. You know it’ll be bad but you can’t help but hold out hope that someone will survive.

    When nobody survives the mediocrity train!

  7. June 28th, 2008 | 9:17 am | #7

    I was thinking of having a Second Chance day where I watched a chain of terrible movies again.

    If so, it will undoubtedly require multiple trips to the ABC store.

  8. Will Goss
    June 28th, 2008 | 1:40 pm | #8

    Oh, but you like the Saw posters better than this movie…

  9. June 28th, 2008 | 1:49 pm | #9

    I would rather watch a slideshow of all the Saw posters for 90 minutes than THE DESCENT.

  10. Will Goss
    June 28th, 2008 | 3:26 pm | #10

    :0

  11. missbittens
    October 30th, 2008 | 3:05 am | #11

    So, I’m a first time visitor to the site. Since I’m going to be watching DVDs on Oct. 31 with a friend, and was considering this flick, I looked it up in the review pages.

    So it gets a negative review, but what’s this? The [male] critic’s first complaints, and largest paragraph, were about how the women were A)TOO HOT and B) Into extreme sports.

    The being too attractive is, I have to say, an unusual complaint. Partially because most people just enjoy it [and again with the male, which means you're probably into ladies] and partially because in movies that actually make it to wide release, an attractive cast is basically a given. Tell me, do you complain about the abundant hotness in everything you review? No? I didn’t think so.

    Despite your saying that your increduality at the spelunking was not a dig at women, I have to wonder. I mean, to summarize the paragraph in one sentence, “Hot chicks liking extreme sports is unrealistic.” So I have to wonder, why? Is it a statement that hot people can’t go caving? Cavers can’t be hot? Or is it a gender-exclusive remark, and were it a bunch of hot men in the cave, you would have no problem? Frankly, the last one seems the most likely. And also; Dustin & Kandace, The Amazing Race. That’s all I’m saying.

    I won’t be back here, and I think I’ll just look up the movie on Rotten Tomatoes.

  12. October 30th, 2008 | 7:23 am | #12

    Not sure I should bother writing this, as you’ve declared you won’t be back, but I’m glad to see that someone is impassioned about something they admittedly have no first hand knowledge of. Defensive ego at its best.

    Watch the movie please. Watch it and tell me that any one of those actors honestly conveys a character that lives and breathes deep caving. THE DESCENT requires a reality to this finite group of characters. They are the crutch of this movie and like a literal crutch – as I mentioned before ever bringing up their looks – they are, “resoundingly uninteresting and wooden”. You’re spending shy of two hours with these characters. You better believe them AND like them. Fast.

    I’m glad that you can cite two realistic individuals who belong in a cave. Now please imagine those same two people cast in a drama of hysterics portrayed by talents comparable to Eva Mendes and Jessica Alba. Also, you’ll need to find another 5 cardboard actors to round out the rest of the cast. Welcome to THE DESCENT.

    Go see it, you’ll have a ball. That’s not a dig. I bet you go apeshit for it, maybe even just to spite this review. I encourage it. But if you’re looking for Halloween movies, I’d be glad to recommend 20 made since THE DESCENT that crush it.

  13. October 30th, 2008 | 8:27 am | #13

    Yeah Peter, you sexist. Stop being so sexist.

  14. Brian
    October 30th, 2008 | 8:34 am | #14

    Don’t listen to Peter. The Descent is awesome. Soon he will give it “one last shot” and finally come around. You know you want to, Peter.

  15. R.J. Sayer
    October 30th, 2008 | 12:04 pm | #15

    Peter, don’t waste your fingertips on somebody who watches the fucking Amazing Race, for chrissake.

  16. October 30th, 2008 | 2:26 pm | #16

    That has to be a troll. Who the hell references Halloween as “Oct. 31″?

  17. Nigel Tufnel
    October 30th, 2008 | 5:03 pm | #17

    After reading this article I think what the reviewer is getting at is that the casting was poorly done, end of story. He even went out of his way to say he wasn’t knocking women. It seems someone took all this a little too seriously. Especially without watching the movie to see if the reivewer was correct in his assesment. First I have to read a near pysch eval of the reviewer then you reference Dustin and Kandace? Really? Amazing Race? Really? Are you serious? Is that show even on anymore? Was it really ever on? If you’re going to come to this site and complain come up with something more relevant than Amazing Race and Dustin and Kandace, whoever they are. Now let me get back to what I’m known for…my solos.

  18. Alabama Black Snake
    October 31st, 2008 | 8:56 am | #18

    Peter,

    Do you find women attractive? Maybe not

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