Tuesday, August 8, 2006
Imagine 6 women stuck in a pitch black labyrinth of caves and narrow passages leading to claustrophobia, hallucinations, and pure terror. Add in some major conflicts and a few snapped psyches and it all equals one thing: wherever you think this movie is going to take you, you're wrong.
Director Neil Marshall (whose film Dog Soldiers is one of the most original werewolf features I've ever seen) creates a stunning vision not only with atmosphere and special effects, but also with a group of stunningly beautiful and strong women. Shauna McDonald and Natalie Jackson Mendoza are some of the best horror movie heroines I've ever seen, and they make the story believable and suspenseful.
But enough gushing about the ladies (except - how cool is it that the film is made up entirely of women, except for the brief opening sequence?). The bottom line is that in the world of horror movies, genuine surprises are very hard to come by. And for almost the entire 99 minutes this ran, I was honestly on-the-edge-of-my-seat, clutching-my-friend's-arm, biting-the"nside-of-my-palm, jittery, breathing-hard-scared.
Part extreme sports action-adventure (and if I didn't think those extreme sports people were insane before, I sure as hell do now), part psychological thriller, and part creepiness in the dark -- The Descent shocks you from the very beginning, takes a small break to set up the characters, and then from almost the second the girls slide down those ropes into the dark, it's non-stop suspense, drama, and more shock.
I have not been this thoroughly entertained by a horror movie in years -- and I have seen a LOT of scary movies. In this case, I absolutely recommend you believe all the hype you've been hearing. I was skeptical, but came out of it totally blown away and agreeing with everyone else that this is the scariest movie to come out in a long, long, long time.
A note for the not-so-hardcore horror lovers: My movie companion's hands were pretty much glued to her face for most of the film because eventually it dives into some pretty disgusting gore (complete with lots of splatter and viscera), and it doesn't stop from then until the very end. Not for the squeamish!