Movie of the Day – The Descent
October 27, 2011 4 Comments
Well now I am on horror/scary movie number 4 and this plays upon a fear that I think most of us have. Actually scratch that, we all fucking fear the dark and being trapped in a confined space. Add in some unknown creatures lurking in the dark to heighten the tension and you got the movie The Descent. The movie itself is frightening at the basest level, it’s fear of the unknown, fear of being trapped, and fear of those around you. While not a splatterfest associated with horror movie, this is the core of horror movies, ones that are meant to use psychological aspects of creating and playing off of our fear.
After suffering a devastating car crash one year before, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) is lured to the States with her friend Beth (Alex Reid) to a special spelunking trip by the fearless Juno (Natalie Mendoza), who abruptly fled from the U.K. after Sarah’s accident. Along with two old friends and a new acquaintance of Juno’s, the group embark on a cave expedition that takes a turn for the worse after a rock fall leaves them stranded in an uncharted cave with no map and only a handful of supplies to last them the rest of the trip. As tensions arise in the group, they are faced with another danger — one whose love of the dark is as strong as its lust for blood. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi
The Descent is truly one of the more horrifying scary movies to have come out in the 2000′s with it’s premise of closed terror. The movie has such a strong core of actresses, which seeing all female leads in a horror film is unusual since there is typically some masculine force that is there to protect the females. Think of it as playing off the typical power structure in movies where the males are the force in the movie and the female relegating to the damsel mood. Having a film which focuses on a tight group of female friends having to fend for themselves in a dangerous situation skews the traditional roles of males and females in movies.
While the roles are switched, this adds to the heighten sense of fear. We are witnessing these strong characters, bonded in friendship, hoping to have a getaway from all that troubles them and being placed under incredible duress. We don’t normally see characters like this pushed to the utter breaking point. They go cave diving and the only option to get out of the cave is to go through the cave itself to the other side. So having that little piece of info sets the stage for the perilous journey they will make. What brings this all to the top of the fear spire is having our heroines placed in a small, confined space, being in the dark and being watched by something unknown.
The fear of claustrophobia is strong as we watch them being crammed into small spaces and scrambling for some semblance of safety. The rock climbing scenes are tense as a slight slip or loose grip spells trouble. The tense setting adds to the dread prevalent in the movie, but the truly horrific scenes happen when the unseen entities start to come out of the dark. They can’t see them, flares and flashlights are their only source of light and one by one the friends are beginning to drop.
Neil Marshall crafted a terrifying, claustrophobic movie. Giving us strong female leads and carefully constructed settings that enhance the dread of closed spaces and next to no ambient light. By removing the comforts and familiar settings of typical horror movies allows our fears to manifest and make us helpless. Also don’t see the sequel of this movie, terrible. Also you should watch the Rosario Dawson movie of the same name, that is pretty freaking great and brutal to watch.