STUDIO: Lion’s Gate
MSRP: $28.98
RUNNING TIME: 98 Minutes

  • Commentary by director Neil Marshall and the crew
  • Commentary by director Neil Marshall and the cast
  • "The Descent: Behind the Scenes"
  • "DescENDING" – An Interview with Director Neil Marshall
  • Deleted and extended scenes
  • Outtakes
  • Stills gallery

The Pitch

Chicks in caves! Chicks in caves! Chicks in caves! Monsters in caves too!

The Humans

Shauna Macdonald. Natalie Mendoza. Alex Reid. Saskia Mulder. Molly Kayll. MyAnna Buring.

The new mascot for Waffle House was surprisingly frank.

The Nutshell

The Descent is the best thing since blowjobs’, they told me. ‘If you see only one movie this epoch, it needs to be The Descent’, they implored. ‘Jesus died so The Descent could exist’, they preached from pulpits on high. Granted, I didn’t need to be told to be excited about the next Neal Marshall flick. I dug Dog Soldiers and Citizen Kane, one of which a previous Marshall joint, so I was primed to like this. I also dig caves and beasts who live in them, and am one of many people who found Jeff Long’s The Descent (especially the first act) to be a wonderful bit of pulp. I must admit two things; I was pissed this was an adaptation of that book and I my own subterranean story coming out (find out about it here), so I might be a little more discerning than Joe Public.

Oh, and some info about Joe Public. He’s light in the loafers.

Here’s the honest truth about The Descent, cutting through all the hype. It is not the best thing since blowjobs. It’s not even the best thing since the Cold Fish Handshake. Read on…

Who’d have known that the Moises Alou stance would be so effective against the subterranean?

The Lowdown

A group of ladies decide to spelunk together, a statement a lot more interesting if you consider the many things that spelunking could have meant. There’s a history of friendship between the group as well as tension, as one of them is still recovering from the horrendous death of her her husband and daughter in a car accident [the one frame of blood spray from the back seat is as effective as anything they could have shown]. Away from civilization and armed only with their gear and their desire to be one with the caverns, they set off on a man-free adventure.

Things go bad, they get trapped, and threats escalate from the crushing forces of Mother Nature to a race of creepy blind subterranean humanoinds. Yep, THOSE GUYS.

Sarah didn’t understand why no one got her Ronny Cox Halloween costume.

The best moments of The Descent stems from Marshall’s usage of tension and the claustrophobic, and for a few of those moments he pulls it off. When the film clicks, it has a few successful scares, though most of them play upon the lack of light and the built-in fear of tight spaces many folks have. Sadly, the characters are either too unlikable or too one-dimensional to convey any sense of audience connection to them. The lead character, whom obviously carries the emotional resonance of her lost family members, is still just about impossible to care about, a fact which makes it very hard not to watch this simply as a fun time to watch humans get it handed to them by creatures. An infidelity subplot that I didn’t even pay attention to upon first viewing isn’t even enough to make me give a damn.

Lead characters, even spelunking females, that you don’t care about, is bad for a horror film.

"Does someone hear pipes?"

The thing that stinks is that Marshall is a gifted filmmaker known for accomplishing a lot with very little [Dog Soldiers cost a little more than my dinner], but aside from a few cool moments and the fact that there’s the possibility for a rich history for the creatures, there’s little to justify the hype here. It’s just too ripe a premise to allow for the execution and hype to allow it a pass. It’s got moments, but its not inventive enough or well-acted enough to make it a standout. The fact the horror genre is rife with weak efforts is the only reason a flick like this would have gotten the acclaim it did.

This DVD features the slightly truncated American release version of the film, a more literal denouement, as well as the controversial [and in my mind unsuccessful] overseas one. When seen separately, it’s a good example of how much a minute of film can alter a viewer’s ultimate satisfaction. Still, whichever way you slice it the film just isn’t up to snuff. It’s a decent time killer with great creature ideas but not too much execution. Also, the way the beasts react and how flawed some of the logic seems in regards to their senses and how they deal with their prey seems underdeveloped for dramatic purposes. In reality, these things should be able to make short work of human beings in the dark, and we are quite smelly creatures so though scenes of these things hovering over immobile ladies makes for good cinema it’s sometimes hard to go along for the ride.

The Descent is a decent horror flick at best, and stripped of the cool idea of a race of humanoid beings in the nooks and crannies of the Earth, it’s just another film that coasts on horror staples to instill fear rather than originality.

The Package

This is a nicely appointed little DVD package, bouyed by two rather nice commentary tracks manned by Neal Marshall. One is more technical, but the one featuring the cast is actually pretty entertaining. If only the film…

The best feature by and large is the surprisingly comprehensive documentary, and it’s obvious that this still is a filmmaker to watch as evidenced by the energy and intelligence he makes his movies with. With a budget and support, he could easily give some of the fanboy favorites a run for their money.

I do have to admit though, outtakes are odd in a film like this.

If you’re a fan of this movie, you’ll be thrilled with the features. You’ll also hate me for this negative review.

6.0 out of 10