Every once in a while, a film comes along that makes me wonder why there aren't more movies out there just like it. 'The Descent' is such a film. Now I usually find the horror genre lame and unfulfilling, often leaving the theater with a stomach ache not from the blood and gore but from the extra-thick cheese in which the average horror flick is steeped. Not so with 'The Descent.'
The film starts off with a premise that sounds like something you'd find on Skinemax at 2:30 in the morning: Five sexy, athletic, thrill-seeking females get trapped while spelunking in an uncharted cave. But if you're thinking the girls will postpone their search for an escape route and instead take a gratuitous group shower in an underground waterfall, think again. Before the ladies can even entertain the idea of communal bathing, they find themselves in a life-and-death battle with blind, bloodthirsty, superagile mutants. The lack of showers aside, below are three reasons 'The Descent' kicks way more butt than the average horror movie ...
1) It gives ladies a chance to be the badass hero for a change. It's almost like a bloodier supernatural version of 'Die Hard' but with five trapped women in the John McClane role. These aren't your average horror-movie babysitter types who somehow miraculously grow the stones to take on a psychopathic killer at the end. From the outset of the film, these women are set up as fierce, independent, strong adrenaline junkies who thrive on tempting death -- so when a couple of them start kicking the ever-living crap out of their seriously ugly and undeniably deadly stalkers, it just feels like all is right with the world.
2) The creatures attacking our five well-toned heroines act on pure animal instinct. They're not deranged human beings with gargantuan fish hooks for hands, nor are they some superintelligent extraterrestrial life force bent on world domination. These guys are simply a breed of creatures who show no signs of logical human thought, but have physically adapted for survival in the sunless, cavernous setting that is their home. They listen only to their id, and -- thankfully, for the purposes of this movie -- their id tells them that they are hungry for human flesh, which just so happens to be the special of the day.
3) As if the cave-dwelling creatures weren't enough with which to to contend, the women also have their own reasons to be suspicious of one another, adding yet another level of suspense to the film. Plus, there's always the slim chance the ladies will, in fact, take a timeout for that afforementioned shower. Now that's suspense.
Tags: The Descent, Horror, Summer Movies