THE DESCENT

Available on Amazon currently only with a Tribeca Film subscription, this horror movie was released some time ago and often rotates into more easily obtained horror streaming sites. Believe it was on Netflix until recently.

THE QUICK AND DIRTY DEETS

Known as “Chicks with Picks” to those in production

  • Girly Groove Rating: 4.5/5, or 9/10
  • Scares: 9/10
  • Moderate to High on Jump Scares, Claustrophobia, Gollum-like Creatures
  • Low on CGI, Unnecessary Machismo

THOTS

So I decided to re-watch The Descent after I stumbled across a data analysis of gender in film scripts. Not surprisingly, most films completely ‘bombed’ the analysis – bombed in quotes because, of course, the analysis was objective, but in my opinion if the majority of films out there only present a majority of male characters, Hollywood, you’re kind of sucking.

But hey – we knew that already, didn’t we? Anyway, not unlike They, which I had seen in high school and re-watched (and apparently never wrote up here), this movie held up surprisingly well to my recollections. I was more than pleasantly surprised. To give you a breakdown, The Descent is about a band of female adventurers, or at least a bunch of gal pals who like to go do sports-y things together. The loose main character of our movie, Sarah, gets a little more backstory than everyone else in that we get to watch her husband and baby die (within the first 15 minutes of the movie; this is, if anything, hardly a spoiler) at the conclusion of a similar adventure-oriented gals’ trip. I’ll be honest in that I find this backstory hardly at all advances the plot. I understand why it’s there; it’s to set up some overtures and relationships between other characters for the main plot of the movie. However, in my armchair analysis, almost nothing would be missing from the movie if they’d skipped it – besides the fact that we know Sarah’s in a bad spot and maybe a little mentally unstable.

I will note, as I write, it strikes me that there are a few elements of the movie that are like this – made much of, obviously demonstrated as important small elements due to stress placed in the acting on such items or events, but which at the end of the day impact the plot on such a small level that they are not, in my opinion, worth the energy the director and cast put into them. That being said, I don’t work in Hollywood – so what’s my opinion worth, anyway?

Regardless, the rest of the movie is an enjoyable, tension-building romp as this group of six die-hard friends venture into the literal unknown, an unexplored cave somewhere in the American south (supposedly North Carolina, but I’ll be honest: the physical location of the crew is about the least believable element of the movie, as all sport lush UK-region accents and no emphasis is ever placed on establishing where they actually are, geographically) in which an early cave-in of their entrance-route tunnel forces them to attempt to find another way out, two miles below the surface, in the unknown and uncertain dark.

Not only does this movie get the creep factors on early and relentlessly, but it passes the Bechdel test not only with flying colors but practically noticelessly. If ever there was an argument to be made that the problem with Hollywood is men with their heads stuck up their asses, and that movies with a majority female cast can succeed and interest audiences of all ages and genders despite such casting, The Descent makes it – and a couple of jumps and shrieks besides.

 

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