The Descent (Marshall, 2006)

I have an unabashed love for Neil Marshall’s schlock masterpiece Dog Soldiers, a brutal and bloody mini-epic which pits a platoon of Scottish soldiers against a legion of uber werewolves. Swords, machine guns, and beautiful campy dialogue; “pure joy” as my best bud Andy astutely stated after our first viewing. Now, with a better production value and increased expectations, Marshall gives us The Descent, a well crafted, tensely paced story about a group of women spelunkers who come across…well, I let you find out for yourselves…because these creatures are pretty creepy. But The Descent is somewhat of a letdown from the glorious mayhem of Dog Soldiers, instead tightly focusing on both space and angle, the cave locations acting as a multitude of metaphors for the women’s descent into madness (take your pick between womb, soul, hell). Each heroine, typical in character and motivation, show their true colors when hard pressed to survive, and it’s just as scary as the creatures themselves. The battle scenes at the end of the film require multiple viewings alone, not only for Marshall’s excellent use of faint color and harsh contrast in sound, but for their direct parallel to the characters inner workings. Moments of pure joy.

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