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: SPECIAL BIRTHDAY EDITION- NEIL MARSHALL’S THE DESCENT

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SPECIAL BIRTHDAY EDITION!

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HAPPY BIRTHDAY NEIL MARSHALL!

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And to celebrate the birthday of one of my favorite new generation filmmakers, I review my favorite of his films! (Though, I like them all!)

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THE DESCENT  (2005)

Our chilling story begins with the tragic death of the husband and daughter of Sarah, (Shauna Macdonald) one of six adventure seeking friends. A year later, group leader, Juno (Natalie Mendoza), decides to take Sarah and the rest on an underground cave exploring expedition. But the overzealous Juno has tricked them into exploring a supposedly undiscovered system and soon they become trapped inside with no one but the cave’s carnivorous inhabitants knowing where they are.

Writer/director Neil Marshall creates a truly scary and suspenseful roller coaster ride as these six women get lost in this undiscovered system and worse yet, find out they are not alone. The Descent is a claustrophobic and tense experience even before the creatures show up. With the tension between group members and of the cave-in that traps them inside, the film would have been entertaining and satisfying enough had that been the extent of it’s story. But it is a horror film and cave dwelling carnivores soon show up and when they do, the real nightmare begins for our spelunking sweeties. One of the reasons Descent is so successful is that the women are all likable three dimensional characters and there is some really nice and realistic interaction and banter between them. They are a diverse and likable group and even Juno has her positive qualities though, her actions do make her very morally questionable. Marshall gets really good performances out of his sextet of heroines and It has impact when they come to harm. And Marshall doesn’t spare them, or us, when they do, it’s brutal and bloody. But these ladies also give as good as they get when it comes to fighting back and the last third is quite a bloodbath. Marshall also ups the ante by adding a personal conflict that develops between the two leads Sarah and Juno, that adds an extra dynamic and gives an extra dramatic punch to an already pulse pounding finale.

The production looks good and Marshall makes maximum use of his setting. The cave itself becomes a character as Marshall filmed the movie using only the light the girls themselves are using, to light the scenes. It gives a better illusion that the viewer is there with our heroines as they move through the underground labyrinth and creates a really claustrophobic atmosphere that adds to the suspense and dread. As for the cave’s inhabitants, they are kept in shadows and seen briefly, which keeps them mysterious and scary and Marshall even imbues them with a bit of character so they become more real to his audience and more than just monsters. The make-up and gore effects bringing these creatures and their carnage to gruesome life are also top notch.

Very intense, very scary, very gory and one of the best horror flicks of the last decade. Watch it in the dark, but not alone! Also staring Alex Reid as Beth, MyAnna Buring as Sam, Saskia Mulder as Rebecca and Nora-Jane Noone as Holly. Buring and Noone were also featured in Marshall’s fun Escape From New York/Road Warrior mash-up Doomsday (2008).

Birthday boy Neil Marshall also directed Dog Soldiers, Doomsday, Centurion, episodes of Game Of Thrones and is slated to helm the upcoming Hellboy reboot.

An intense and gory 4 cave critters!

descent rating

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