“I’m an English teacher, not fucking Tomb Raider.”
There are few horror films that I will enthusiastically watch, time and again. The Descent is an exception. Featuring an all-female ensemble cast (okay, there is the one guy, but his screen time is limited to what, like 5 minutes?), The Descent is an action-driven horror film that preys on your worst psychological and emotional fears.
Directed by Neil Marshall, The Descent stars Natalie Mendoza and Shauna Macdonald as bffs Juno and Sarah who, during a fateful weekend in the Appalachian Mountains, stumble into an unmapped cave system which proves to be home to humanoid cannibals.
Claustrophobic, intense, violent and action-packed, The Descent is a terrific allegory about the exploration and experience of deep emotional loss and trauma. The further Sarah (who loses her husband and child during the beginning of the film in a horrific car accident) goes into the unknown, the more she is forced to confront her loss and fear. Ultimately, her journey leads her to the inescapable drive to survive, to escape the caves, presumably (and hopefully) with a new found reason to live.
The Descent is a unique film. Not only is the cast (Alex Reid as Beth, MyAnna Buring and Saskia Mulder as sisters Sam and Rebecca, and the tenacious Nora-Jane Noone as group newcomer Holly) comprised of strong, female characters, but they’re all adrenaline junkies and risk-takers. They’re doing the stuff I like to do and looking great doing it.
This shift in the typical horror film dynamic makes for a vision that is as unique as it is refreshing to watch. For once, not only do we get one strong, driven female character in a horror film, but an entire cast.
The strength of the bonds shared between the women make each challenge and tragedy faced by them more intense. And because you are emotionally invested early on, the tension is very tangible as things begin to go awry for the group. This makes for bigger scares and a far greater sense of loss.
I love the fact that these women, instead of tearing each other apart and belittling one another, stand together to fight back against a common threat. You will, too.
Official site: The Descent
Wiki facts: The Descent
Is The Descent rotten or fresh?
How did The Descent do at the box office?
Watch or buy The Descent on Amazon