THE DESCENT PART 2 (2009)
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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.
Rated 3 (out of 4) pick axes.