34: The Descent (it was decent, ha!)

The Descent – August 4, 2006
Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Jackson Mendoza, Alex Reid
Written and directed by: Neil Marshall

The plot: “A caving expedition goes horribly wrong, as the explorers become trapped and ultimately pursued by a strange breed of predators.” – IMDB

My thoughts: This movie was gross. Which isn’t really a bad thing. It had me looking away and scrunching up my whole face in disgust. For instance, a whole lot of eye gauging happens. Which, in my case, makes me imagine my own eyeballs getting squashed into my skull and I want to vomit.

The plot is pretty simple (unless you really want to get into symbolism and all kinds of “intellectual” theories about representation and shit. Not that that’s a bad thing) and it was nice to see a bunch of tough females kicking monster ass. But I can’t help but take a hard look at a movie that appears to be all about strong women and still, no feminist values in sight. There will be spoilers below so don’t read on if you don’t want to spoiled!

In the beginning of the movie, Sarah is married. As it happens, her friend Juno is having an affair with her husband. Their friend Beth is hip to this but keeps quiet. Both her husband and daughter are killed in a car accident and one year later, Juno wants to take Sarah and a bunch of friends on a caving trip to…apologize? Set things right? Ease her conscience? Something like that. Anyway, after they’re attacked by a bunch of naked monster man things, Juno is in survival mode and Beth approaches (stupidly without saying a word) and Juno kills her unintentionally, leaving her to fully die/be taken by monsters. Sarah later finds Beth and Beth says “don’t trust Juno…she had an affair with your husband”, thereby sending Sarah on a “kill Juno” spree. After everyone but the widow and the mistress are left standing, Sarah lets Juno know that she knows about Beth’s murder and her cheating ways. So, she rams some kind of climbing pick into her knee and leaves her to die without a word.

"Hey girls, this is gonna be a crazy fun weekend!"

So, my issues? Even though they’re fighting definitively masculine monsters and they’re doing this ballsy shit, the stuff that actually tears them apart is over a man. They can get through terrifying caves with things that want to eat them alive and yet the whole “you slept with my husband!” is still the clincher. And while the affair may have indirectly lead to the accident that killed her family, I don’t think leaving your friend to be eaten is exactly an eye-for-eye kind of thing.

And another issue is Beth. Why did she have to die? Is it because she knew for an entire year about the affair and didn’t say a word to Sarah, so ultimately she had to pay some kind of price? And yeah, Juno did some dumb shit – having the affair and taking her friends to an unexplored, uncharted cave – but Beth was adamant that Sarah not trust Juno, like it had all been a grand scheme to get everyone killed and she could have all the glory.

An interesting note (oh, and spoilers are done now) there are two endings – the American “happy(?)” ending and the UK “sad” but ultimately better and more interesting ending.

All in all, it was an enjoyable movie until I took the time to go ahead and give it a quick analysis. It’s definitely bloody and full of “boo!” moments. In terms of entertainment, it was definitely good; a quality gross-out, claustrophobic style movie. In terms of message…I don’t even know.

Stars: 3.5/5

P.S. The sequel sounds like complete and utter shit so don’t even bother.


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