The better part of the movie takes place underground, and the cinematography is the biggest star, setting the mood perfectly. Ranging from coffin like claustrophobia, to vast temple-like prehistoric caverns littered with animal bones, there are some beautifully crafted set pieces. Don’t assume that a film set in the dark will be visually dull. There’s a fantastic scene where Sarah, covered in blood, emerges from a cavern filled with carcasses and skeletons, wielding a fiery torch, straight out of Goya or Bosch. For those in the right frame of mind, this film is beautiful.
The cast does an admirable job, and although the characters aren’t the most three-dimensional you’ll find in film, they are real enough to tug at the heartstrings when they perish. There is also a brilliant thread that explores the increasingly savage infighting in the group, giving a nod to Lord of the Flies. A particularly brutal scene involves Sarah and a wounded Beth, which will make you wince, but is also very moving.
The Descent isn’t perfect by any means, but it is a superb film. With studios puking out lifeless sequels and remakes at an alarming rate, it is a breath of fresh air to see something of this high quality. It hops so effortlessly between genres and milks so much atmosphere and excitement from so little, that it will probably be taught in film schools in years to come.
So, if you want a brilliant unpretentious horror film that keeps you on the edge of your seat for an hour and a half, go and see The Descent. You might just kak yourself.
- Ivan Sadler
Horror movie fans are in for a blood curdling treat with The Descent. It's easily the scariest movie of the year.
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