"The Descent" - a movie review by Jules Brenner for Cinema Signals>
Cinema Signal:

Entering the Stone:
On Caves and Feeling Through the Dark

. "The Descent"

It took writer-director Neil Marshall 4 years to put together a film worthy of his 2002 hit, "Dog Soldiers," which is what he's done here. And, we say to him, take all the time you need dude, if you're going to do horror with this level of plausibility and realism. You're our answer to Stephen King and his monster mash supernatural ilk. The working title for this UK film was (highly appropriately) "Crawlspace." Indeed. It might also have been, "Hellions With Rockpicks."

A prologue sets up some of the princi-pals, a group of girl friends and Sarah's (Shauna Macdonald) husband who is killed in a freak (and highly unlikely) highway collision. One year later, the band of beauties who comprise Sarah's primary net of support and empathy for her loss, get together for a weekend expedition up at Juno's (Natalie Jackson Mendoza) Appalachian mountain cabin. This is not just a coffee clutch or a sewing circle. This is a team of spelunkers whose idea of a good and glorious time is to explore the famous and nearby deep cave.

Director Marshall didn't only cast his movie for feminine pulchritude. Considering what's coming, it's clear that every actor had a physical capability test to pass. Each participant in the journey is clearly an accomplished athlete at the top of fitness and conditioning. It's a treat to watch, even beyond the dramatic context.

Juno takes nominal leadership since it's her area, and after awakening the crew at the crack of dawn, she leads them through the forest to the well-mapped cave opening. New to the pack is Irish lassie Holly (Nora-Jane Noone of "The Magdalene Sisters" fame). In tight, muscular attendance also is Beth (Alex Reid), Rebecca (Saskia Mulder) and Sam (MyAnna Buring).

Once the ladies enter the labyrinths and tunnels, no male characters appear who are identifiable as such. There are only the denizens of the deep that long ago adapted to living in darkness and searching for meat to eat. Human flesh is quite good enough, thank you, as the women will soon enough learn. Fortunately, these beings, which we call "Crawlers," are easy enough to kill and these Olympian women, for a time, manage to hold their own.

For a time.

Flat-out fans of horror will be entirely at home along these dark, forbidding passages and will love the adventure. Those who are very discerning about their horror can feel free to join in for one of the most demanding and rewarding examples of the genre since "Saw," and the lesson that it pays off big in terms of drama and tension to carefully define personalities and relationships as Marshall so carefully does.

The few who generally stay away from scary movies altogether might want to consider the exemplary physical performances in these dark spaces. A treat lies in store for the adventurous, not the least of which is the clever naturalistic lighting by Sam McCurdy and original music by David Julyan. Plenty of rocks but none in the creative departments. Well thought out from entrance to exit.

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                                      ~~  Jules Brenner
                                          Cinema Signals  


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because when i see this.my feelings goes to very good

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