The Descent (2005)
Neil Marshall, Dog Soldiers, Doomsday
I believe that The Descent is the finest horror film in the last 20 years.
That is a line I say fairly often, though my moods shift. Still, it is definitely up there towards the top. Neil Marshall is a fantastic director who has made woefully few movies. Though he has made some great episodes of Game of Thrones, Hannibal, and Westworld.
What makes this movie so frightening is the juxtaposition of the killer creatures with the very real fear that most of us have of going cave diving. The claustrophobia of it is palpable. Most of us would never think to put ourselves in the situations that these women are willfully trying out for fun. On top of that, the subtle drama that plays out between the characters truly made me feel for them. It is rare that a horror movie can make be genuinely care about anyone’s personal life, but this movie pulls it off.
The American version of the film has an ending that is dreadful. In the end, the main character gets out of the cave and drives off, alive and well. In the actual ending, that turns out to be a hallucination, and she is really still in the cave with no hope of escape. America decided that the movie needed a happy ending because America is stupid. Yeah, I said it. Call up Donald Trump and report me, I’m sure he’ll take time out of his busy golf schedule to tell me why happy endings are the bread and butter of America.
Why did I just get political? Ignore that shit.
Anyway, from the first crazy unexpected death to the bloody end, The Descent is a textbook example of how horror should be. This film, along with some others, should be given credit for the current horror renaissance. This was an early example of what these movies would become. A change from the 80’s and 90’s into something different, more mature, and far more frightening for the modern world.
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