The Descent (2005)

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Neil Marshall’s resounding success with both the authorship and direction of this movie enjoys yet another accolade for its multiple levels of interpretation, the depth he provides, offers. In an almost David Lynch reach beyond the mundane, Mr. Marshall gives his viewer a first class horror flick with ramifications impacting into another genre of cinematic art. Perhaps his example inspired directions Tony Krantz took in the making of the movie, Sublime, two years later.

At the most simplistic interpretive level, The Descent, is typical of many well-crafted horror films, making successful use of special effects, stunning costume design, and the ability to borrow exceedingly well from past movie successes in creating an ominous setting. The remoteness of the cave chosen to explore, the “issues” between the contingent of lady spelunkers (in the Appalachian wilderness we’re already alarmed about from, Deliverance) and the opportunistic use to which we can all be instantly reduced to claustrophobia by an underground passage we get stuck in, are only the beginning of what awaits deeper down.

Although the two leads here, Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) and Juno (Natalie Jackson Mendoza) perform brilliantly, the remaining lovely lady spelunkers, Beth (Alex Reid,) Rebecca (Saskia Mulder,) Sam (MyAnna Buring,) and Holly (Nora-Jane Noone) all serve their roles with convincing and professional success. Not a small task in the “theater” of what is to come. The pathos is incredibly enhanced by the way in which, as events transpire, these women brave them as a unit, just as well as would men, and are obedient to the loyalties of bonded friends. While the monsters lurking in wait for them are amazingly constructed to be convincing, if not fictional, denizen predators.

But then there are elements to this storyline that beg a far different interpretation, one more graphically implied in the later film mentioned, Sublime (2007). One suggested by suspicions already disclosed concerning interplay between Sarah’s husband and Juno: the way in which the accident follows that kills Sarah’s husband and child, her own recovery process entertaining dark “visions” that uncomfortably persist and that mix with the story, and the very ending which is on a note of subliminal yearning as deep seeded as it gets. Below, spaced out of consideration, is a statement best read after viewing this superlative film. Reading it before seeing the film might infringe upon viewer’s pleasure. So you might restrain yourself until you have had that opportunity.

No nudity, excepting for insides exposed. Only appropriate language, cleaner even than most of today’s TV sitcoms. But a very intense film throughout.

NOT ADVISED TO READ PRIOR TO SEEING FILM….

The mind contains its own perfection, perhaps even its own universe. How one might resolve the loose threads remorse leaves tangled around our memories, and how we might sort them out into resolutions more remedial to our health, even that in preparation for death, just might be more encompassing than readily imagined.