The Descent

The Descent ★★★★

Part of **Halloween Season 2012**.

I'm a big dude, and I get wedged into things easily. So the pure claustrophobia of a film set in dark caves sets me up for true horror. Plus, the filmmaker understands that the biggest scares are the ones we don't see. And this one is pretty damned scary.

These days, "horror" films tend to be about gore or stupid people doing stupid things. They don't frighten as much as tittilate, tease, and once in awhile make you jump. But though this picture has plenty of gore, its characters are for the most part not stupid. They do the best they can in a situation that is -- mostly -- not of their making. And while you will jump -- while watching the DVD, I tweeted "Fuck, I about jumped out of my skin just now!" after one scene -- the greater pleasure is the slow burn that makes your skin crawl. You just know something is going to happen any moment now. . .

Sadly, the film does lose a star because it forgets everything I just said about making the scary stuff invisible. Once we turn that corner, it's not as scary anymore. Oh, it's plenty exciting. And the ending will leave you wondering. But that sense of magical fear is gone.

The Descent is a fantastic picture, despite my last paragraph's complaint. You'd be hard-pressed to find a better one of its kind made in English in the last 10 years.

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