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."
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.