4/6/07

The Descent (2005)

Shauna Macdonald (Sarah), Natalie Mendoza (Juno), Alex Reid (Beth), Saskia Mulder (Rebecca)

Neil Marshall

From IMDB: "A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators."

I have determined something about myself and horror films. I will not follow the current batch of "Splat Pack" horror directors into the realm of tremendous violence perpetrated by actual people. Movies like Saw (crazy man makes Cary Elwes cut folks up), Hostel (crazy folks capture backpackers and sell them to torture-happy clients), and The Hills Have Eyes (crazy desert rednecks slaughter random highway travelers) just turn my stomach. I don't dig watching folks cut up by crazy people. That strikes me as a little too possible.

Granted, I just watched Lady Vengeance, which also features heavy human-on-human violence of the most terrifying kind, but at least it spoke measures about the perversity of human nature and the redeeming strength of... well, it had a message. Just one I won't be watching again.

Monsters, however. Rock on with your bad mutant selves.

Slither, 28 Days Later, even the defining classics of my youth, Aliens and Tremors -- none of it bothers me. Ok, it bothers me a little. But I find creature movies entertaining. Generally speaking, the good guys win. Lots of Red Shirts die along the way, and there's always the possibility of question mark, to-be-continued endings, but I find the experience worthwhile. Scary, messy, nasty, surprising, and fun.

About a dozen times during The Descent, I quoted Guy from Galaxy Quest. "Oh, that's not right!" The slime abounds. The blood flows. The compound fractures made me want to squirm and look away. OUCH! SHIT!

But the plotting made sense. Six women, connected with enough emotional baggage to make their under-stress behavior a little testy and unpredictable, go spelunking -- the very concept of which is enough to give me the heeby-jeebies. Let's go in a cave! For fun! No thanks. Give me a beer and nachos in front of a film about cave-divers, if you please.

The actual monster mash portion took place for only about 25-30 minutes of the whole film. The rest is marvelous fake-out build-up, rife with actual dangers and scenarios that blend the horror of the everyday with the more outrageous eat-em-up bits. Their challenges are difficult enough when cool heads and careful planning are the norm. When everyone freaks out in an emergency, things go wrong. And then the monsters get dinner.

I also enjoyed the non-American accents from a seriously multi-ethnic cast of no-names ladies hailing from Malaysia, Australia, Ireland, Sweden, Holland, Scotland, and England. Slag. Cow. You just don't hear British-themed woman-on-woman insults in studio films very often.

While the ending didn't do it for me, the supposed last shocker before the credits roll, I did enjoy the idea that the survivor was probably the least able to mentally endure the aftermath. No one gets out of this film unscathed. Good fun.

1 comment:

Reel Fanatic said...

Carrie, I have to say, it's kinda scary how much we agree on this ... I love 28 days later, but all the other so-called "horror" movies of late I just can't get in to