HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: THE DESCENT PART 2 (2009)

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THE DESCENT PART 2 (2009)

(Clicking the highlighted links brings you to corresponding reviews and articles here at The Movie Madhouse!)

For those who have not seen Neil Marshall’s 2005 flick The Descent, sequel details will reveal crucial plot points for the original film. SPOILERS AHEAD!…

Neil Marshall’s The Descent made an impact when released in 2005 and is now regarded by some as one of the best horrors of the 2000s. No surprise that a sequel was eventually made, though Marshall opted to only executive produce. The story picks up two days later, but like the edited American ending, allows Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) to escape the caves. She’s found, as a search for the lost women is underway and hospitalized. Local Sheriff Vaines (Gavin O’Herlihy) decides to bring the traumatized Sarah back into the caves, to lead the search team in finding her companions. Obviously, the creatures from the first film await them. 

This time around, the film is directed and competently by Jon Harris from a script by James McCarthy, J Blakeson and James Watkins. The good points are, while not nearly as consistent as the first film, there are still some very claustrophobic scenes, such as pretty rescue team member Cath (Anna Skellern) getting trapped, like a happy meal, inside a pile of boulders, with hungry cave dwellers waiting outside. There are some brutal action sequences, some really good and abundant gore and the film moves fairly quickly at 93 minutes. The cast are all good, especially Krysten Cummings as Deputy Rios, and the returning cast members from the original are solid in the reprising of their roles. On a pure entertainment level, it’s an efficient enough sequel. The downsides are mostly with the script and story. First off, it’s odd they fashioned the plot after the U.S. edited ending with traumatized Sarah escaping the cave system and here being hospitalized. It doesn’t seem necessary, as she goes right back into the caves anyway. They could have just found her in the cave and had the same effect and, to be honest, she isn’t much help once underground, anyway. She also becomes a suspect when they start to find bodies, but that plot point doesn’t even last long enough to have much effect. Next, it’s a bit farfetched that the sheriff would be allowed to remove a traumatized woman from the hospital to go spelunking in the very place that traumatized her. It’s also hard to believe that the same sheriff, who has grown up around the mines all his life, would fire a gun inside a cave system. It’s a weak and obvious plot excuse to trap our new group in a cave-in. Biggest plot annoyance…SPOILER ALERT!…is that after Marshall ended The Descent on the powerful note of Sarah getting revenge on the egotistical Juno (Natalie Mendoza), for sleeping with her husband and leaving Beth (Alex Reid) to die, the sequel finds a battle worn Juno still alive and even has she and Sarah basically putting aside their differences to become comrades in arms. It completely shites on what was a really strong emotional moment of payback in the previous film’s climax….END SPOILER ALERT! Finally, the WTF ending just doesn’t work and is again a weak attempt at giving us one last shock…and set up a part 3 that we never got.

Ultimately, the flick is a mixed bag. From an action/horror level it’s got a lot of attack sequences, some suspenseful moments, a bit of claustrophobia and some abundant and good gore. The critters are a bit familiar now, but are still effective and their make-up is good. In the negative, the story not only uses the less impactful, edited U.S. ending as a springboard, but people who have cave and mine experience also do stupid things to put our characters in harm’s way. Worst of all, it brings back a character whose fate gave the first film’s climax powerful resonance and in a way that reverses a powerful character moment between her and Sarah. Overall, it’s entertaining enough and worth a look for fans of The Descent, though don’t expect anything near an equal and some plot points may irritate you. The Descent Part 2 is streaming free on Tubi, if you are interested.

-MonsterZero NJ

Rated 3 (out of 4) pick axes.

 

 

 

 

 

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HORROR YOU MIGHT HAVE MISSED: A NIGHT IN THE WOODS (2012)

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a night in the woods

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A NIGHT IN THE WOODS (2012)

A Night In The Woods is a dull British found footage horror that expects it’s audience to accept some fairly ludicrous plot elements to tell it’s story, as well as, directly lifts it’s climactic act from the classic Blair Witch Project. The silly story finds American Brody (Scoot McNairy) going on a camping trip into the moors with his British girlfriend Kerry (Anna Skellern). But, Kerry has invited her ‘cousin’ Leo (Andrew Hawley) along and tension starts from the very beginning with Brody not happy with the presence of this mysterious family member and his obvious closeness to Kerry. Of course a stop in a local pub brings us folk tales of devil worshipers and a phantom huntsman who hangs sinners from trees so, our supernatural element is given us, as we know this will come into play later. But, as the three settle in, truths are revealed as camera voyeur Brody knows that Leo is not a cousin but an ex boyfriend and the tensions begin to rise as Brody makes this known to both Leo and Kerry. But, once Brody goes off into the night and Leo goes off to pursue him, Kerry is left alone at their remote camp… or is she? Written and directed by Richard Parry, this is a tedious flick to sit through even at a scant 80 minutes. The fact that Kerry would invite her volatile ex-boyfriend along on a camping trip with her current, volatile boyfriend… and lie about it… is ridiculous enough to swallow but, the fact that Brody is aware of who Leo might be and actually agrees to the trip instead of confronting Kerry about it then and there, is even more ridiculous. We get about fifty minutes of this soap opera level melodrama where we find out both men are a bit unbalanced… and Kerry obviously has terrible judgement and taste in men… before the film tries to ignite a supernatural spark but, at that point we are already too bored and don’t like any of these self-centered and obviously emotionally disturbed people to care. The idea that Brody would leave in the middle of the night to go hiking, leaving Kerry and Leo alone together while knowing Leo is her ex, is possibly the worst of the ridiculous plot elements director Parry expects us to accept and the fact that Kerry would let Leo go after him with the tension high between the two, makes it even more laughable. Finally, when left alone, we are given a last act where something might be pursuing Kerry and we get the full Blair Witch treatment with screams in the dark, lots of running around in the middle of the woods via camera view and the prerequisite jolt ending. It’s not bad enough that the filmmakers pile improbability on top of improbability in terms of the story between the three characters but, they top it off with a completely derivative climax that offers nothing new and certainly nothing scary. The film has a scant few moments here and there such as some well portrayed tension between the three principles, though the absurd nature of what is going on ruins any appreciation of it. And the locations are well shot using their creepiness to maximum effect but, the poor story and rip-off climax numbs any appreciation of this too. A complete waste of time that either bores you with it’s ridiculously contrived drama or numbs you with it’s blatant use of another, far better, movie’s climax. Avoid unless it’s your mission to watch every found footage movie you can get your hands on.

1 and 1/2 stars.

 1 and 1-2 star rating

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