Descent, the - Descent into Madness

Alliance Atlantis
Duration: 99min
Category: horror
Available: On DVD
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The scariest movie I saw in 2006, except for maybe Jesus Camp, was The Descent. Like 28 Days Later, itís a little film that comes out of nowhere and find the best of its genre while remaining well within the boundaries of that genre.

Itís the story of group of young women who go spelunking and come across something terrifying in the caves. For me, all we needed was the spelunking and I was terrified. The combination of small spaces, darkness and the inability to escape is one that sends me over the edge. The Descent magnificently fosters these fears, manipulating us beautifully into feeling true terror, not just some light shock. This film taps into fears that keep us awake at night and therefore is infinitely scarier than a rehashed slasher.

Then there are the monsters. Monster movies work best when you see little of the monster and the film allows you to imagine it for yourself. The Descent mostly implores this tactic and it works. Still, the monsters arenít the freakiest part of the film. If there were, it wouldnít have been so strong.

Freakier than the monsters is the way the characters relate to each other in the crisis. The human response to fear and desperation can be horrific and this film, again like 28 Days Later, scares us with these issues. Watching these women struggle to survive is a big part of the fright.

Sure The Descent doesnít stray too much from the formula but it takes that formula and makes it rise to the occasion. Any genre can be good when it is done well. This is a good example of whatís wrong with people who say they donít like horror, or musicals, or westerns, or whatever genre they have decided they are not open to. When a good film is made well it doesnít matter what genre it falls into. Yes, most teen horror films suck big time. It just so happens that The Descent does not.

The best thing about The Descent is the ending. Now there are two endings. I guess the studio felt American audiences werenít prepared for the brutality of the original ending and come up with a happier one. Skip that and watch the intended ending. Itís beautifully tragic and disturbing. If you arenít up for it go watch The Grudge or some other simpleton horror film that will do nothing but make you jump and giggle.

The Descent is wicked fun and itís for those who want to be truly frightened.

Review By: Collin Smith

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