See The Descent before it’s out of the theater.

Score:  A

Cross Aliens and Pitch Black, only without the former’s “Murphy’s Law” hilarity, and without the latter’s subtle “redemption comedy,” but excelling them both.  This movie works.

Now, it’s been in theatres for two weeks already, so folks who are already movie fans will have seen it.  But if you haven’t, go catch it.  It is a horror flick and a survival drama.  There is gore.  About similar to Aliens.  It’s there, it’s brutal, it’s realistic, and it’s also entirely appropriate.  At no point does The Descent ever descend into simply being a splatter movie.

There are minor camera-work glitches here and there that my buddy noticed.  I don’t have that eye.  The soundtrack works.  The plot is just barely actually plausible in a “I know this ain’t real, but I can easily suspend my disbelief” sort of way.  One of the guys tossed his popcorn. 

The shooting is tight-angled and tense, and while I’m not going to put in spoilers, most importantly, this is a psychology film.  The characters are real, and you care about them, even as you can see immediately who’s going to be the first to go.  There is emotional interaction sufficiently subtle that not everybody who went to see it with us caught it.  The total girl-interaction, with an almost complete lack of male voices in the movie, was so well done that I was actually repulsed by it in precisely the “gahh” sort of way I get when I suddenly find myself as the only guy in a roomful of close-knit women.  The decisions that they make are consistent with their characters, and, more importantly, they’re the kinds of decisions that women make, both when they’re doing the right thing, and when they’re totally hosing up.  And, of course, they do.  Or, put another way, of course they do:  it’s a horror movie, not The 13th Warrior.  The writing here is perfectly in tune to how gals interact, and the title works on a variety of very specific levels.  (For you uber-geeks, the medieval four-fold method of exegesis can actually be applied meaningfully to this movie.)

I’m into this sort of movie, and if “Dangerous Assumptions” and the “Iron Rules of Survival”  expressed in film appeal to you, get to see it before it’s gone… if only b/c some of the subtleties that help make it work aren’t going to work as well on your puny little t.v. screen.

Leave a comment


  1. blair

     /  August 20, 2006

    I never really saw them (them the collective, there was one individual who should have been euthanized when they were in the cabin) hosing up too badly. They spazzed, but only after all reasonable threshholds of mental endurance were breached. I saw it as a tale that no matter how competent you are, there are just some things that are bigger than you.

  2. I also don’t blame them for spazzing. Not everybody reacts to danger the way I do. In fact, I’m probably the tiny minority. There were several specific mistakes that were made that badly exacerbated their troubles.

    Otherwise, yes: part of survival dramas is that “the avalanche doesn’t care about your opinion.” If you make the wrong moves, you will surely die, and likely kill your friends, and if you make all the right moves, you still get no guarantee. Knowing a coral snake from a king snake is only half the problem…


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