Tuesday, January 30, 2007

The Descent

This is another movie I was very excited about seeing. As has been established, I am a big horror fan, and this was supposed to be one of the scariest movies from 2006. I had the movie for a week before I finally got around to watching it. I was waiting for the perfect opportunity- late at night, in the dark, alone, not too tired, etc. I must say, however, that I was thoroughly disappointed. This movie has a fairly large fan base, and I can understand why. It follows traditional horror telling techniques of dark and uncertainty, and it does do a good job of this. I am by no means calling it a horrible movie. I was just expecting a lot more.

Most importantly, I did not find it all that scary. The movie is simple enough. A group of women go spelunking, and find themselves trapped underground with unknown blood thirsty creatures. Follow? I hope so. The movie starts out with a feeble attempt at character establishment, a year or so before the main story takes place. The mere fact that they attempted this already puts the Descent above many horror movies (i.e. Feast, which I reviewed a few days ago). This development is just sloppy and unconvincing. Finally the group indeed descends into the Earth, and this is where it starts to get scary. The scenes early on underground are the best in the movie. The women are forced to make their way through tiny spaces, find themselves trapped. This is before the creatures ever make an appearance, and the idea of being trapped underground is far more terrifying than the rest of the movie. So much could have been done to explore the psychological stresses this would cause, but these ideas are only briefly touched on.

It's not long before the creatures show up, and the whole movie goes downhill. All the great ideas early on fall by the way-side, and it just becomes a monster movie, picking off victims one by one. There is an attempt at creating tension between the characters as they start to lose their mind and turn on each other, but these scenes (largely portrayed during flashbacks and hallucinations) are muddled and confusing.

Neil Marshall proves himself as a competent director in his first major release. He builds a convincingly creepy atmosphere, with a very small budget (on the commentary he talks about how much they reused the same sets and used different lighting, etc to create vastly different locations). It's ingenuity like that which gives me faith in the up and coming film makers of the horror genre.

This movie has a great premise, and a few genuinely scary scenes. Unfortunately it could not buck convention and provide something new. Marshall has potential, and this was not a terrible movie to introduce yourself with. I anticipate good scary movies from him.


1 comment:

bassoonchick said...

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