THE DESCENT (2005) Review

Directed by: Neil Marshall
Starring: Shauna McDonald, Natalie Jackson Mendoza, Alex Reid

I was pretty excited to see this movie. I'd read plenty of positive reviews and it was written and directed by Neil Marshall who was responsible for one of my favorite werewolf films Dog Soldiers. Unfortunately The Descent didn't really do it for me.

A group of female friends get together for an annual adventure vacation. Sarah (Shauna McDonald) has been lured to the United States along with her friend Beth (Alex Reid) to go on a caving (or spelunking, if you prefer) trip with their old friend Juno (Natalie Mendoza). After explaining that the cave is an exceptionally easy and safe descent, they arrive to find that Juno has lied. It turns out that the cave is actually unmapped and as far as everybody knows, unexplored. But they decide to go anyway.
Not long after the enter the cave though, there is a rockfall and they find themselves trapped with no map and limited supplies. But that isn't the worst part. It turns out that they're not alone in the cave, and the other inhabitants are hungry...

If you've seen Dog Soldiers, then you'll know the general outline. The film starts off with a couple suffering a traumatic event, (in this case a car accident) then the film flashes forward to a group of people in a remote location (although this time it's women and they are in a cave) and then they soon find that they are facing a terrible non-human enemy (not werewolves this time). But that is where the similarities end. Not only do the women have to battle monsters, but they also have conflicting personalities which causes trouble. Juno is the strong fearless leader type, whereas Sarah is a traumatized woman trying to get her life back together (how ironic).

The cave sets the right kind of atmosphere for a horror film, dark, claustrophobic and creepy (I found it to be a little too dark at times). The acting is fine, but nothing spectacular. There is plenty of tension. All round it is a good solid horror flick, but I think after all of the hype it just seemed to fall a bit short of my expectations. It's definitely worth a watch but don't expect too much.

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