August 26, 2006
I realize that The Descent came out three weeks ago, but its box office suggests that not that many people have seen it yet. When I went to see it right after trying rock climbing at the gym for the first time, all I knew about this movie was that it was about a group of women who go caving or something and then all kinds of horrible shit happens to them and at least one of them ends up covered in blood and screaming at the sky/caves (see photo.)
But I didn't know that most of the active stuff these women do in the movie that doesn't involve getting eaten by cave monsters is basically rock climbing. So if you go see it, I recommend you try some rock climbing right before you go, because it's really cool to see these women doing a much harder and more dangerous version of what you were just doing. For the first half, The Descent is a surprisingly exciting outdoor adventure movie about some gutsy Scottish, Irish, English, and American women whose hiking trip in the Chattooga forest runs into some unexpected problems, and they have to rely on their own bravery and skill to work their way to safety. Or not.
Because in addition to rock climbing and caving, these adventuresome women also do horrific, bloody, and merciless battle with swarms of slimy, albino cave monsters! Many shocking things happen in relation to the "horror" aspects of the movie, which kicks in suddenly half way through. I really am fond of genre-shifting movies, the best and most extreme example probably being From Dusk Till Dawn (Tarantino crime-psycho flick suddenly becomes vampire movie.)
I don't want to give away details, but there are some jaw-dropping and inventive scenes of violence. Not all of the acting is great, but some of the women can hold their own, and give really awesome performances of toughness and grit.
In many ways, this is like a female version of Deliverance--a group of women go out into unfamiliar country in the middle of nowhere, filled with hubris and confidence, then they start having trouble with the elements. Someone gets a compound fracture. Then the deadly things lurking out there in the woods start pulverizing them. Except in The Descent, it's much, much worse. Deliverance was filmed around the Chattooga River in Georgia and South Carolina, where The Descent is set, though The Descent was actually filmed in the UK. There are also references to Carrie and Alien (sort of).
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