Reviewed by: Taran Gingery
How does viewing violence in movies affect the family? Answer
Every time you buy a movie ticket or rent a video you are casting a vote telling Hollywood “That’s what I want.” Why does Hollywood continue to promote immoral programming? Are YOU part of the problem?
|Featuring:||Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Jackson Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, Nora-Jane Noone, MyAnna Buring|
|Director:||Neil Marshall (“Dog Soldiers”)|
|Producer:||Keith Bell, Christian Colson, Ivana Mackinnon, Paul Ritchie, Paul Smith|
|Distributor:||Lions Gate Films|
“Scream your last breath”
“The Descent” begins with something that we are all very familiar with: friendship. Not only a strong friendship between the six leading ladies, but in particular a strong bond between main leads Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) and Beth (Alex Reid), who was Sarah’s greatest comfort during a time of tragedy. However, even the strongest friendships, when put under trial, can either become stronger or be broken, and this friendship is about to be put through its greatest test yet.
Sarah, having recently lost her husband and daughter in a terrible accident, is still suffering from nightmares a year later. In an effort to bring the group of friends together one last time before summer break ends, college resumes and other responsibilities make them too busy and also to give Sarah’s mind something else to dwell on for a while, these six friends decide to go spelunking (cave exploring). So, on one fine morning, this group consisting of Sarah, Beth, Juno (Natalie Mendoza), Holly (Nora-Jane Noone), Sam (MyAnna Buring), and Rebecca (Saskia Mulder), set off for a well-known cave in the Appalachian Mountains. Everything starts out well, and then things go terribly wrong.
The trouble first begins when a cave-in blocks the passage out of one cave and it is discovered that the map has been left in the car. Then it is revealed that they aren’t in the well-known cave after all, but an unknown group of caves—something Juno, who organized the expedition, knew full well, but she didn’t tell anyone. So, the explorers are left with only one choice—to find their own way out. Soon after, they find that they aren’t the first to be in the caves after all.
A hideous race of humanoid creatures has been dwelling deep in the bowels of the Earth for who knows how long. They have no human emotions, no feelings except a hunger for anything that walks on four or two feet, and they are hunting these six, interesting-looking victims. Now, what was only a race for survival has become a true fight for their lives as the group faces terrors and obstacles that will test their friendship and their will to go on.
Technically, “The Descent” is a marvel. The Appalachian location is perfect and at times, wondrous to behold. The caverns are extremely realistic and are both beautiful and terrifying at the same time. Filmed entirely on sets using green screens, the results are astounding and not once could I tell that they weren’t real caves. All of the acting in the 6 leads is strong and special mention must go to whoever plays the creatures and whoever did the make-up on them, because they are disturbingly real.
Morally, however, the film is shakier. Partly this is because not all of the characters are developed enough and some only seem to be around to be killed by the creatures. Those that are developed end up changing in drastic ways, making you think differently of them. Sarah, the most developed character of them all, is the easiest to sympathize with because she has recently experience a tragedy, and yet through it all she is sustained by the memory of her lost child which seems to give her a will and strength to survive. True, it is not God who is her strength, but someone seems to give her these memories at the right times. However, her actions in the final moments of the film suggest that a lot of that strength also comes from a desire for revenge and she is shown as ruthlessly unforgiving, both of which are morally unacceptable for a Christian audience.
Juno, the second most developed character, is the hardest to sympathize with. Her actions at the beginning of the film show an almost prideful ambition that the rest of the party doesn’t seem to share, as she purposefully leads them into the wrong cave so that they can be the first to explore it. When she realizes that the entire thing may have been a mistake, she becomes dangerously aggressive towards the creatures, to the point that she seems to take a strange delight in killing them instead of merely defending herself and loses all control of what she is doing in a bloodlust, with gruesome results.
All of the girls, however underdeveloped some of them may be, display a strong sense of courage and loyalty in the hardest circumstances and all of them at some point in the movie do all that they can in order to save each other, even when there isn’t any hope. But many of the girls are eventually killed off, with the most unsympathetic ones alive in the final half, leaving the audience either rooting for them or wishing that they would come to their senses and do something to make us like them more.
From a parental perspective, there is plenty here to make “The Descent” not for kids and only for adults or older teenagers with strong stomachs. Five minutes into the film, we see Sarah’s husband bloodily impaled in a car accident, but that’s only the beginning. On the trail to the cave, the girls pass a rotting deer corpse crawling with maggots. One girl falls and breaks her leg, resulting in a compound fracture and a bloody, agonizing treatment. During various fights, several of the monsters are stabbed, bashed in the head, jabbed in the eyes, etc, and all with very bloody results. One girl has a chunk bitten out of her neck, another’s throat is cut, and still another is stabbed in the neck with a pick-axe. Two girls have their guts literally torn out by ravenous creatures.
On top of all this, the language is pretty appalling, too. Do the girls seriously have to use the ‘F’ word whenever something bad happens? Some smoking and reckless drinking is also present near the beginning.
Many of these graphic and blood-drenched scenes had the audience turning away in disgust. Interestingly enough, when the girls had to watch their friends being killed in such a horrible fashion, they closed their eyes to it, yet the camera lingered. I think having the camera also turn away after making its point would’ve been more effective towards making a fairly decent and well-made horror flick without drowning it in gore. Also, in order for a horror film to be strong, we need characters that we can root for, and if the filmmakers had written these 6 women as morally strong to the very end, the film would have been all the more powerful.
Thus, in conclusion, it’s not worth our time and money to wade through rivers of blood and filthy language to take this “Decent” into Hell, although it could’ve been a decent scary thriller if the moviemakers had made some wiser decisions.
Violence: Extreme / Profanity: Extreme / Sex/Nudity: Minor