in Shocktober

The Descent (2005)

The Descent has its following, it even holds an admirable 84% on Rotten Tomatoes but it’s all lies. Maybe I’m two hung up on the end, or maybe I’m the only one isn’t afraid to speak the truth? Either way let’s take the plunge and unearth the grimy deep that is The Descent.

The Descent tells the story of a group of five adventurous women that go spelunking in a cave in the Appalachian Mountains. After being trapped in the cave by collapsing debris the group must not only find a way out, but face off against a predatory species of goblin-like under dwellers. I love the premise, simple but uniquely scary. The Descent is kind of like CHUD except with better monsters seen more often that are everywhere. I like the first half okay but it doesn’t take long for this to descend into mediocrity.

Most of The Descent is your run-of-the-mill haunted house bullshit but in a cave. What’s that noise? (Insert character’s name screamed over-and-over again). A bunch of characters that blur together get picked off in a movie where we can’t see anything. The effect of spooky monsters living in a dark cave really only works half of the time. The rest of the time I’m struggling to tell exactly what I’m looking at. That’s okay, but it’s the ending that really gets me.

Major Spoiler: Go to next paragraph to be safe
The ending of this movie pisses me off something fierce. The spooky cave monsters eventually wittle down the women to one survivor. Does she give up? No, she fights for her life, escapes the cave, finds a car and begins to drive. This whole sequence goes on for about ten minutes. Yay, freedom!… Wrong! Because the next scene is the same woman waking up, still in the cave. It was a dream, a fucking dream. How cheap is that? Why piss off the viewer that much? Does anyone like that? What. The. Fuck.
Spoiler End

The ending to The Descent really sinks the whole experience for me. Hallucinating and dreaming are two of my most despised storytelling techniques. I despise those because they’re too easy. I like to be challenged with real conflict. Why must you be s cruel Neil Marshall (writer/director)? Because of that I’ve never cared to see any of his later films. Though I do recommend Marshall’s 2002 werewolf flick Dog Soldiers. At least that gave me something to believe in. Here my hopes and dreams are sunk.

Down, down to Goblin Town!