The Descent

The Descent

An aesthetically and tonally pure horror film, & more psychologically ambiguous than I think it's given credit for — Juno is villainized to an extent but not entirely, and Sarah is also shaded, with an implied death drive, to say nothing of her hallucinations. The criticized dropping or underdevelopment of these threads works in its favor, the psychology is lost in all that darkness, binds are loosened and masks dropped, the move into the primal deeply violent on a internal level before it ever becomes physical. This emotional grounding gives a felt desperation to the struggle for life, the creatures never as menacing as the entrapping spaces of the cave. Limited light sources and explosions of color fragment the cave into abstract or even cosmic imagery, bodies arranged in voids, psychedelia of the primeval (canny artifice here: a very convincing, natural-looking cave network, but, being a set, totally controllable: but for the opening, this is one of the great studio-bound horror films).

Harrowing not for its mechanistic side (those jump scares), but for straightforwardly plunging into the animalistic, finding a creature at the back of the self buried in the recesses of the brain(cave). Familiar thematic ground, but delivered with confidence and force. Form and affect in unison, physicality supplanting language.

John_Lehtonen liked this review