The Descent

The Descent ★★★★½

The Descent is one of those films that I've heard about and discovered thanks to Letterboxd and also seemed to get lots of high praise, particularly as a recent horror film that doesn't suck in the eyes of the general audience! And I have to say, The Descent absolutely did not disappoint, living up to its high reputation.

The Descent is very much both a figurative and literal descent into darkness as the premise is that a group of six female friends go out together on a spelunking trip that goes horribly, horribly wrong. Director Neil Marshall makes sure to spend an appropriate amount of time on the buildup, crafting characters and getting the audience feeling like they are down there in those caves with them before things turn into a blood-soaked frenzy. Atmospheric, creepy, claustrophobic and even dread are words that I would use to describe The Descent and its tone. The film makes remarkably good use of light and dark in its subterranean setting, I have always had a fascination with creepy cave stories and the unknown of the dark, and the highly original concept of The Descent is practically everything I would have wanted from it and executed to perfection.

The Descent is also helped by good acting and a sweeping, emotional score by David Julyan. All six actresses give good performances and create distinguishable characters which can be hard when everyone is spelunking in dark, tight spaces. When the proverbial shit does hit the fan, the true personalities of several of the characters emerge under stress, the transition of which is handled deftly. I am being somewhat cryptic about the plot, but the less that you know then I think the more effective the film becomes.

I really don't have any complaints besides some minor nitpicking, but The Descent is everything I could have wished for, and well worth a look for genre fans that have not already.

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