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The Descent

  • compiled by Jeffrey Overstreet Copyright Christianity Today International
  • 2006 1 Jan
The Descent
from Film Forum, 08/10/06

Six women on a cave expedition fall into a fight for survival against monsters in British filmmaker Neil Marshall's ultra-violent horror film The Descent. Most Christian press reviewers caution viewers against being dragged down into such a bloody mêlée.

Steven Isaac (Plugged In) says, "There's no subtlety in watching blind grotesqueries feasting upon females. Neither is there any subtlety or even much style in the way director Neil Marshall throws in all manner of jump scenes (the ones the make you jump in your seat), be they cheap, expensive or just plain out of nowhere for no discernable reason."

David DiCerto (Catholic News Service) is also disappointed. "Lighted almost exclusively by flashlights and flares, what starts out as a highly effective horror film that conveys an unnerving, almost palpable, sense of claustrophobia and primal fear of being buried alive—including a terrifying scene in a crawl space more frightening than any of those with the pasty predators—becomes a routine monster flick, as Marshall increasingly indulges in easy jolts and grisly excess."

But Greg Wright (Looking Closer) says, "The Descent transcends the conventions of both the adventure-gone-awry and the horror flick. In fact the film this most reminds me of—in terms of inventiveness, symbolism, and thematic content—is Apocalypse Now."

He also offers an interesting and timely interpretation. "The film is a slightly biased parable about the costs of unequally yoked international coalitions getting in over their heads. Juno, the American leader of the group, leads her friends into the cave under false pretexts. When it becomes clear that she has no concrete exit plan, she loses the support of her European allies. Ultimately, Juno realizes that she is in over her head, and that she is up against an enemy that she has neither the weaponry nor the will to defeat."

Mainstream critics herald The Descent as a better-than-average, memorable horror film.

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