Tyler Talks Horror: The Descent

Published on October 21st, 2016 in: Horror, Movie Reviews, Reviews, Tyler Talks Horror |

By Tyler Hodg

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Hi, my name is Tyler Hodgkinson and I am a total horror n00b.

In this series, I’ll be taking a look of classic, cult classic, and modern horror films with ignorant eyes. Its concept is scary simple.

The Descent is an English horror film that was unknown to me and people I know. I asked around: “Have you heard of The Descent?” The unanimous answer was “no.” After watching the film, I feel compelled to spread the gospel.

The Descent isn’t afraid to push the boundaries with gore and a pro-feminist narrative. The story takes off once the main protagonist, Sarah Carter, wakes up from a coma and travels from England to the USA for a girls’ weekend. They stay in a dingy, secluded cabin, and naturally, I thought the cottage would play a bigger role in the story considering it’s a familiar trope used in horror films. However, it follows Sarah and her adventurous friends as they attempt to escape a monster-infested cave.

Like the third movie I watched for this series, The Changeling, the opening sequence of The Descent features a deadly car accident – but instead of the wife and daughter getting hit by a car, a husband and daughter are impaled by copper poles that fly out of an overhead container when the two front bumpers meet. What I find interesting when comparing the two scenes is that The Changeling features no blood or actual footage of the death, while The Descent leaves nothing to the imagination (seriously, a little girl has a pole through her head!). This shows the evolution and desensitization of movie watchers, and society in general.

Following the early deaths, the first half of the flick has the group of friends dealing with environmental danger, and it isn’t until the back end that they encounter their first cave-dwelling goblin-like creature. These things aren’t something to sneeze at; think of a slimy orc on crack with super speed and insane agility. When the terrifying look of the crawlers is paired with the idea that there’s no visible escape from the cave, a great sense of suspense is felt.

Although the film does a great job with elevating the terror and has great imagery, there is one thing in particular that irked me: the early deaths in the beginning of the film feel insignificant and unnecessary. I understand it’s to set a certain tone, and it does add to the strained relationship between two characters, however, the movie could have survived without the arc.

With that said, The Descent is a gory and glorious horror film. It doesn’t shy away from showing gruesome deaths, and uses blood in an exaggerated but stylistic way. This all makes for an interesting horror movie, but it’s the all-female cast (with the exception of one male who dies early on) that gives the movie “balls.”

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