United Kingdom Release Date: 12-02-2009
Directed by: Jon Harris
- Shauna Macdonald, as
- Sarah Carter
- Douglas Hodge, as
- Joshua Dallas, as
- Anna Skellern, as
- Krysten Cummings, as
- Ellen Rios
- Doug Ballard, as
- Doctor Roger Payne
- Josh Cole, as
- Saskia Mulder as
Shauna Macdonald in The Descent: Part 2.
The original Descent blew me away. It was a gripping, tense, and claustrophobic little horror movie that seemed to come out of nowhere. Since it got decent reviews and did fairly good business, compared to its budget, it was almost inevitable that a sequel would be made. And I suppose that it was also inevitable that the sequel wouldn't live up to the original.
In case you never saw the first one, it told the story of a group of women who went on adventure holidays together. This time they decide to do some spelunking in a cave system in the Appalachian mountains. Once underground they become trapped, lost and eventually hunted by a weird species of humanoid creatures known (although never named so in the film) as Crawlers. By the end of the film, it seems that only one of the women (Sarah) is still alive.
There were two endings to the first movie, depending upon which country you were in when you saw it. In the original European version, Sarah remained trapped in the cave with the sound of the Crawlers getting closer, implying that she was going to die. Deemed too dark for American audiences, that ending was changed so that she does in fact get out of the caves. Now ironically, the sequel follows the American version, which allows Sarah to once again be the star of the film. I say ironically because the sequel was only released in Europe, never in the USA, so audiences in Europe must have wondered how she survived.
Where the original movie had some character development and built suspense slowly, Part 2 does away with all that and almost immediately jumps back into the gore. It starts immediately after the first movie ended, with Sarah being rescued. The local Sheriff, his deputy and a climbing team want to go back down and try to find the rest of Sarah's group and they want Sarah to go with them. Sarah does because, in the movie's dumbest plot device (although the sudden reappearance of another character from the first film comes in a close second), she suddenly has amnesia from the trauma of the first movie and so doesn't remember anything that happened to her.
Perhaps it's because Neil Marshall, the writer and director of the original movie, only produced here, that this sequel has such a different feel to it. Some of the best moments in the first movie are those before the Crawlers even appear. You really felt the claustrophobia and fear for these women as they climbed and squeezed through these tight spots in the cave. Here though, the suspense has been replaced with blood, gore and even excrement. There are some creepy and scary moments, but they have less of an impact because apart from Sarah, we know almost nothing about the people being attacked.
Also, seeing more of the Crawlers gives the audience time to start wondering about them. Like just what the hell are they? And, if they're blind as shown, how do they hunt deer? And, if they go outside to hunt, why did they evolve to become blind? If they spent their whole life below ground it would make sense, but clearly they go outside the caves, so why can't they see?
Apart from some nitpicks along those lines and setting aside my disappoint when comparing it to the original movie, I have to say that there are some things to enjoy in this movie. It's fast paced and action packed. The Crawlers are still scary and there are some gross, but fun moments. I was never bored while watching it.
Since an American version was never released I have no way of knowing if they would have changed the ending again for US audiences. The ending for this European version though, without giving it away, is even more depressing and dark than the first movie's ending. I don't say that to spoil it for you, but to prepare you for it.
Photos © Copyright Pathe (2009)