For this month’s final review for Genre Grandeur – Horror Films, here’s a review of The Descent (2005) by Jane of 500 Days of Film
Thanks again to Jane of 500 Days of Film for choosing this month’s interesting (if not uncomfortable for me) genre.
If you missed any of them, here’s a recap:
This month we had 6 reviews for GG:
- Let The Right One In (2008) – Reut
- Bhott A Bollywood Horror (2003) – Darren
- You’re Next (2011) – John
- Goosebumps (2015) – SG
- Jaws (1975) – Rob
- The Descent (2005) – Jane
Thanks to everyone who participated this month!
In addition, I watched and reviewed 4 additional movies from this genre for my Genre Guesstimation series. Once again, unfortunately, none of them will be now included in my own favorites of the genre.
Next month’s Genre has been chosen by Prime Six. He has chosen another unique genre for this coming month. We will be reviewing our favorite Realistic Films.
Here’s his interpretation of the genre:
We all put reviews in for films we think are realistic, for example Gravity has real physics behind it and Saving Private Ryan is a realistic depiction of war.
To be clear, not ‘real’, not a true story or documentary. What comes to mind when you think of the most realistic film you’ve ever seen? So Fast and Furious and Comic book films are all (mostly?) out.
It’s a weird topic, not even a genre, more of an opinion but I think it could be interesting.
A few examples just so we can have a good idea and get the ball rolling
David Ayer crime stuff
Watchmen could have an argument
Rambo 1 / First Blood perhaps
12 Angry Men
There’s a huge range of genre’s covered by this topic, clearly. It could be interesting to see what people define as ‘realistic’ in Hollywood – they’re not right or wrong because it’s opinion based.
Please get me your submissions by the 25th of Sep by sending them to email@example.com Try to think out of the box! Great choice Prime Six!
Let’s see what Jane thought of this movie:
When Movie Rob asked me to choose this month’s cinematic genre there was really only one contender. While I enjoy all movie styles, I love horror films. For me, there is nothing better than a tense and thrilling scary movie.
I am often asked about my favourite fright flick. This is such a tough question as I love many different horror films for many different reasons. For example, I adore John Carpenter’s The Thing, Tomas Alfredson’s Let The Right One In and William Friedkin’s The Exorcist.
However, if pushed, my favourite film in this genre has to be Neil Marshall’s The Descent.
Released in 2005, The Descent tells the story of a group of friends who decide to go on a caving expedition in the Appalachian mountains. Things go terribly wrong when they become trapped. Their only option is to go down, further into the depths of the cave.
Little do they realise what terrors await. Thus, the horror of The Descent is threefold – part being stuck underground, part the malevolent things that lurk there and part the terror of losing those you love.
For a horror movie to work, you need four key ingredients: powerful storytelling, effective casting, something genuine scary and a satisfying end.
Most importantly you need to care about the people involved and understand their motivations. Marshall draws us into his story from the very first scenes of his film. He places his superb, all female cast in a believable, relatable situation.
The initial plan for the film was to have a mix of both genders. Thankfully, Marshall decided to break with convention. In an interview with Film4, the director explains that “the fact that they’re all women isn’t an issue. The film isn’t a chick flick, it isn’t about girl issues, it’s about survival issues.”
And survival is pretty tricky deep within the Appalachian mountains of North America. The caves are both stunning and extremely claustrophobic. You have to remind yourself to breathe…
Incredibly, all of the cave locations were built in the UK, at Pinewood Studios. Production designer, Simon Bowles, explains (on his website) that he “wanted the cave sets to look very dangerous and difficult to move through for the cast but easy for camera crew to work in. Using real caves would have been impracticable and made for very slow filming.”
Having watched the film, I can’t imagine the work that must have gone into building those 21 sets.
Of course, horror films work best when the evil remains unseen. All too often, the inevitable big reveal proves disappointing. After all, real or CGI effects can never rival the power of the imagination.
Nonetheless, ‘the crawlers’ in The Descent are truly terrifying. Yes they look frightening. Yes they generate jump scares. However, they are also unsettlingly ambiguous and strangely believable. They look like creatures that have adapted to their environment – indeed Marshall describes them as “cavemen that never left the caves”.
Scary movies also often disappoint when reaching a conclusion. Bucking this trend, the ending of The Descent is a move of sheer horror genius. It is smart, satisfying and stays with you for days.
I was surprised, therefore, to read that the movie’s original ending was changed for the film’s US release. Approximately one minute was cut from the end – completely changing its tone.
If you get the chance, watch the UK version. The final 60 seconds are just so powerful – the perfect end to 100 minutes of pure horror.