Surprise, bitches! I don’t know why I said that, you are lovely readers and I treasure each and every one of you. Anyway, this is a super extra bonus post! Did you really think that I would end October on a meh film like Children of the Corn: Runaway? Hell no! I saved my favorite horror movie of all time for a special Saturday/Halloween post! At least that’s the excuse as to why I waited 10 months to talk about The Descent.
One year ago, protagonist Sarah lost her husband and young daughter in a car accident; now she’s going spelunking with some friends in an effort to get the gang back together. Sarah’s best friends are the sensible Beth and the more reckless Juno, but also along for the ride are sisters Becca and Sam, and Juno’s new protegee, Holly. The ladies make their way to the boring Boreham Caverns, but find it’s a lot more exciting when they actually arrive. After a cave in traps them deep underground it’s revealed that Juno lied to everyone and they’re not in Boreham, but rather in an unexplored system. The bad luck continues when Sam cuts her hands real bad, Holly breaks a leg, and oh yeah, albino cave dwelling humanoids attack the group and kill Holly. Juno’s a badass fighting them off, but in the rush of the moment also mortally wounds Beth and leaves her for dead. Oops! Juno meets up with Becca and Sam, but the sisters don’t survive for long. Meanwhile, Sarah is struggling to survive on her own when she encounters the still living Beth. The dying woman reveals that Juno did this to her and that Juno was sleeping with Sarah’s husband. Yikes. Sarah mercy kills Beth and then goes full survival mode on the cave dwellers, transforming from a woman who got scared in a tight tunnel to a murder machine. Being completely covered in blood certainly doesn’t hurt her image. Sarah and Juno reunite and after fighting off more creatures, then Sarah reveals she knows the truth and stabs Juno in her leg, leaving her to die as Juno did to Beth. Sarah manages to claw her way to the surface in a triumphant scene, but nope! I got the true ending on this DVD, so her escape was a dream! She’s still underground with the creatures closing in.
There are so many things I love about this movie, like how the creatures show up before anyone realized they were there. One iconic moment happens when the ladies are exploring the cave. There’s a wide shot where our protagonists are clustered on the right half of the screen, but a quick look to the left half reveals the first shot of the troglodytes. The relationships between the characters were great, and the majority of them are likable enough that it’s sad when they die. Your mileage may vary on Juno since the audience picks up the sexual tension between her and Sarah’s husband in the opening scene, and also on the in-your-face Holly. And the ending is–to me–a superb way to end it all. Just the right level of downer without completely demoralizing you. GOOD THING THERE’S NO SEQUEL TO THIS MOVIE THAT SHITS ALL OVER THIS!!
In other news, did you know that there’s a novel called The Descent about a race of cave people–most likely an offshoot of humanity that went underground centuries ago–and focuses on an expedition deep underground? Would you believe that the novel and the movie are completely unrelated? Jeff Long’s The Descent came out in 1999 and outside of the surface similarities, has nothing to do with the movie of the same name. In the book the underground humanoids have an actual society and reach all corners of the earth, as we see in several interludes. The titular descent isn’t just to see what kind of landscape the underground has (because of course Capitalism would spread to claim this new real estate), but also is searching for Satan. Yeah, that’s a big plot point here. It’s a great book that I’ve read several times and highly recommend (even though the book does have a few sequences of graphic sexual assault). Jury’s out on the sequel, though, as I haven’t read it after mixed reviews.
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