The Descent is a Horrible Movie and Anyone who says Otherwise is Lying to Your Face

Posted by Peter Hall - July 19th 2006 @ 2:24 pm

If you’re a horror fan and read genre news sites, or practically any movie news sites, for that matter, you’ve probably heard nothing but praise for The Descent, a trapped-in-a-cave flick from UK’er Neil Marshall which hits American theaters on August 4th.  I first reviewed it in early November of last year and didn’t buy into any of it, but still called it watchable, for some reason I no longer comprehend. 

The Descent is a horrible, horrible, ugly, boring, mundane, flaccid excuse for a movie and anyone who says otherwise is lying to your face.

I wouldn’t care if this was just a bad movie.  Bad movies are all over the place.  And even if I don’t like a movie, I’m not going to tear it apart just because someone else did, but not only is the praise for this movie outstanding, it is wildly unjust.  I’ve not read a single bad review of it anywhere on the internet, and yet when I watched it for a second time the other night with Christine, who had not yet had the pleasure of experiencing its glacial pace and soul crushing characterizations, I was overcome with a seething rage towards how absolutely shitty it is in contrast to how much the internet community is deepthroating Neil Marshall for free over it.

Surely this kind of mouth work costs money:

Arrow in the Head, perhaps the most popular horror site on the net, says this:

"It’s been a while since a horror flick stomped my skull to ashes in its harshness, scared me silly and moved me on an emotional level all at the same time."

Bloody Disgusting, a horror giant I frequent very often:

"The Descent is ridiculously bloody, violent and scary, Neil Marshall has proven that he knows horror films better than most of us as he has taken us for a ride that we’ll never forget. When you walk outside the theater after the film, that first breathe of fresh air you suck in will never have been so sweet."

Scott Weinberg, Cinematical’s horror nut:

"Packed with slick surprises, jarring jolts, gruesome gore, and unbearable tension, The Descent is one of the best horror films of the past several years."

And then all this random fellating:

"The most effective cinematic chiller since "Alien"."

"The Descent is very simply the scariest film I’ve seen in years."

"[W]ill inspire boys and girls who like the genre even though it could be read as a tale about the battle between the sexes."

"Bring a change of pants, because this one’s a soiler."

Bullshit.  Bullshit.  Bullshit.

None of this is true because the movie is a complete failure from its opening moments.  Movies need characters and they need capable actors.  No amount of blood or bad camera work is going to make a movie that has boring actors playing boring characters interesting.  I’ve seen the movie twice.  Hell, I watched it less than 36 hours ago for a second time and I can still not think of a single character’s name past Juno, and that’s only because it sounds like Alaska’s capital.

The characters aren’t even stereotypical, they’re just vapid, hollow and unrealistic.  Their bonding experience in the cabin prior to the descent is full of jokes that never illicit laughs and special moments that are never special.  It doesn’t help that the entire cast of actresses are only capable of expressing two and a half different emotions and by minutes 25 they’ve devolved into nothing but annoying voices.

And my god, Neil Marshall, what ever convinced you that it was a good idea to write it into your script that your dumbass Juno character, who lives on the other side of the world, knows the exact location of a globally unknown cave system which is on the opposite side of the world in the middle of fucking nowhere?  I can let plot logic slide if it’s minor and the rest of the movie compensates, but not here.  You must have known how glaringly illogical that was, so just pull a Joey Gladstone and cut it out!

So with empty and meaningless characters, at least we have the horrific cave dwellers to make the movie interesting, right?  You could possibly argue this, if only for the fact that the first baddie doesn’t even appear until 53 minutes into the 95 minute running time.  And once they do appear, they just run around in fast-motion blurs and make inhuman clicking sounds that are straight out of any handful of other creature features, like Signs or even Mimic.

The last 42 minutes of the movie could possibly be scary if you didn’t already hate yourself for putting up with the first 53 minutes.  The ending is pointless, redundant and exists only to exploit the audience.

The music is abysmal and never, ever helps set the mood of the film.  It’s poorly composed and poorly used.  The cinematography is bland, except for a few good looking shots here in there.  The editing is long winded and uneventful in the beginning and hectic and unnecessary in the end.

The Descent is just failed filmmaking.  Failed scripting with failed casting and failed direction.  I cannot understand why this movie is getting the love it is from the horror community and it really is the turning point from which I will no longer invest any credibility into the internet hype machine.

It is a shitty movie and I hope it fails miserably with US audiences.  I don’t have an agenda.  If you want to see the movie, by all means see it, but please don’t go in with the high expectations you’ll inevitably have by the seemingly unanimous praise filled reviews on other horror sites.

The Descent is not even close to being the best horror movie in years, yet alone even a decent movie.  It is just a gaggle of whiny bitches lost in a cave and their deaths, and thus the end of the movie, couldn’t come sooner.

comments are closed
  1. July 19th, 2006 | 2:36 pm | #1

    Wow! Such vitriol! I totally have to see this now.

    (Unfortunately, I don’t think I ever will, seeing that I have a poor memory and Netflix doesn’t have it available to save yet.)

  2. July 19th, 2006 | 4:11 pm | #2

    Fair enough, and you’re certainly entitled to your opinion. But rest assured that A) my opinion of the flick is my honest and sincere one, and B) I’m certainly not LYING to anyone when I tell them it’s a movie worth seeing.


  3. PhreEk
    July 20th, 2006 | 5:12 am | #3

    i actually laughed out loud when i read

    “soul crushing characterizations”

    thats awesome. and your review was so good about it being bad that i now have to see it. btw dont question peter. his review is right.

    faith in peter.

  4. July 20th, 2006 | 8:02 am | #4

    Hey Peter, what did you think of the Blair Witch Project?

    P.S. Uh oh, Scott no likey you accusing him of teh payola.

    P.P.S. Not that you did.

    P.P.P.S Did you?

  5. July 20th, 2006 | 10:31 am | #5

    It’s funny. Whenever I absolutely love a movie, like say Altered States or Cemetery Man, no one rushes out to rent it, but when I lay into a movie, everyone wants to go see it. What is up with this genre?

    I dug the Blair Witch Project and still do. I think it’s a great, inventive piece of filmmaking that kind of got the short end of the stick as time went on. I think it’ll be the exact opposite for the Descent. As more and more people see it, everyone will start to realize just how flat and generic it is.

    I wasn’t accusing Scott (I love reading the guy’s work and think he does have a great eye for horror) of teh payola, though originally I had written a line about my check getting lost in the mail. I may be wrong here, but I think Scott (and others) had the luxury of seeing the Descent at a festival screening, which I’m sure gives fuel to an otherwise un-energetic experience.

    I don’t think any of these sites are intentionally lying, I just think they’ve got blinders on.

  6. July 20th, 2006 | 10:42 pm | #6

    Wow, dude, if you think The Descent is horrible, you outta check out WIthIN. That movie is HORRIBLE.

  7. July 24th, 2006 | 7:18 am | #7

    I think you’re overreacting. I’m not as enthousiastic as most website, but it thought it was pretty exciting and i jumped twice. The biggest problem i had with the movie were that the creatures supposedly had exceptional hearing, but couldn’t hear one of the girls breeding when he’s ten centimetres away from her. I wish it was all more brutal and sudden. They survive for way to long, down in those caves. It should have been a fast and ugly massacre.

  8. July 24th, 2006 | 11:11 am | #8

    I don’t know. I really think this is going to be one of those times where everyone loves it when it comes out and then hates it within two years – kind of like with Blair Witch, only Blair Witch was interesting, inventive and had actual emotions.

  9. July 24th, 2006 | 4:03 pm | #9

    I don’t think that will happen. People tend to like DOG’S SOLDIERS too. I thought it was garbage.

  10. Tom
    July 26th, 2006 | 10:20 am | #10

    Out of your whole site, this is the only thing i disagree with you on, maybe im biased but The Descent is a good film, with good scares and can be pretty intense. I think you should put more energy into persuading people Hostel is shit, only last week did i find out my co-workers think it’s a good film directed by Tarantino.

  11. July 26th, 2006 | 11:43 am | #11

    Funny you should say that, while watching The Descent again last week, Christine and I both mentioned that we’d rather be rewatching Hostel…


  12. Tom
    July 26th, 2006 | 7:58 pm | #12

    Oh no. Oh fucking no. I really don’t get how you hate this film so much, i’ll admit it wasn’t a classic, nor even as good as Dog Soldiers.

    I bet it’s just the fact that all those gals don’t decide that an orgy would be the best solution

  13. July 27th, 2006 | 5:22 am | #13

    Honestly, it’s kinda nice to see a negative review of a movie that got nothing but good reviews. Not that I enjoy reading negative reviews, it’s just that I haven’t found one single negative review of the movie on the net until now, and everyone can’t have the same kind of taste right. Personally though, I thought the movie was really good and had a great feel to it, of course no matter what other people think. But we’re all different and it’s good that it shows. Cheers!

  14. July 27th, 2006 | 7:07 am | #14

    You´d rather watch HOSTEL again? That’s a pretty bad joke :-)

  15. July 28th, 2006 | 12:56 pm | #15

    Sorry for you Dude ! Maybe “the crypt” is for you ? I’m joking !

  16. mvario
    July 29th, 2006 | 8:53 am | #16

    Thank you. While I didn’t dislike it as much as you did, I was perplexed by all the hype. It just wasn’t anything special. Heck, the story was the same as Centipede!, except the characters were a bunch of unlikeable women and it slapped on a downbeat ending.

  17. July 31st, 2006 | 11:37 pm | #17

    Your taste is in your ass. This movie was Great.

    Oh i forgot to add the disclaimer:


  18. August 1st, 2006 | 8:25 am | #18

    At least now I know I taste things with my ass.

  19. August 1st, 2006 | 12:13 pm | #19

    Which might not always be bad, considering what you eat.

  20. August 1st, 2006 | 8:26 pm | #20

    Good one?

  21. Chris
    April 16th, 2007 | 3:43 am | #21

    Wow, I was just talking about this sorry excuse for a movie with a buddy of mine. He loved the movie though I still can’t figure out why. I’ve asked many of my friends what they liked about the movie and they can’t think of anything to say except they all die. How about the lame ass acting done by Sarah or some shit. She had these horrible twisted faces at times when she’d just finished killing a beast. Oh yeah, wow all these human-like monsters are around killing my friends, but amazingly I’m able to handle them no problem. Sorry ass, whack ass pile of bullshit. I was almost embarassed to continue watching this shit. This movie was TERRIBLE. If you liked this movie, you’re fucking idiot with an I.Q. of probably around 10. The movie industry will continue to pimp the shit out of you with mindless ass-stew like this and you will continue to eat up.

  22. Sean
    April 16th, 2007 | 11:21 pm | #22

    This movie made me feel like I was watching The Cave, several times throughout it, but it had girls in it.

    It was recommended to someone on my site, and I went out and rented it, and was tempted to ask for my money back.

    It wasn’t really frightening, and the ending was horrible.

    I mean, I enjoy a good bad horror flick (some of the best are, if you get what I mean) but this wasn’t really able to hold my interest.

    There’s the catty girls who fight it out for unknown reason, the husband who dies but doesn’t really…and the whole thing kind of twists together into this whole confusing outline.

    And I wish people would give reasons why it was bad/good without having to insult each other, Peter deserves more than “u suk cuz u haet teh movie i luv lol u et wit ur azz rly gai u suk!” comments.

  23. pingback

    […] this film, a film I’ve called on good days a “headache” and on bad days “soul crushing“, has become my white whale.  When the moons of Big Red align just right, a resistor some […]

  24. lyzzie
    November 19th, 2011 | 6:32 pm | #24

    damn! I should have read this review before watching this horrible, boring, badly directed movie. There were so good critics everywhere on the net that I thought it was good. But indeed, this movie is just a waste of time… I don’t even understand why people dared to compare it to Aliens. With the setting of underground horror, it would have made sense to not show the monsters… sigh…

  25. Minami
    February 10th, 2012 | 8:59 pm | #25

    I won’t say what happens exactly but towrad the end of the movie one of the characters does something bad and after that I didn’t care what happend and wished she would get killed by the monsters too.

  26. October 3rd, 2012 | 9:39 pm | #26

    I’m about to post a scathing review of this very movie on my blog on November 3rd. I can’t do it this month due to a blog event. But, I thought The Descent was a terrible waste of time and an insult to horror fans and the genre. Shitty, shitty film.


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