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Saturday Night at the Movies

By Danny Hogan.

The Descent 2 starts pretty much where the first one ended. Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) is the only known survivor of an all-girl team who went caving and ended up getting into hot water at the hands of some fruity looking creatures. She is dragged from her hospital bed by an overzealous old copper called Vaines (Gavan O’Herlihy) and press-ganged into a search party to try and find Juno (Natalie Mendoza), as she is the niece of a local senator. Why two members of the search party are Australian is never explained and seems at odds considering that the film is set in the Appalachian Mountains, US of A.

Sarah, is too traumatised to express the horrors they face and before long the team ends up in the cramped uncharted and unstable caves, screaming themselves hoarse, trapped, lost, separated and more.

So many of today’s films, particularly horror, are sequels in name only, and only have a tenuous link to the first film while they basically rehash the plot or add strange, disjointed factors. Not so Descent 2. It is coupled so well with its predecessor that I would recommend that horror fans watch the two back-to-back when it comes out on DVD.

The characters, for the most part, seem to be picked off at random regardless of their skills and apparent importance, which I suppose is how it would be in reality. Unfortunately, this does not allow for a good portion of the character to develop much depth. However, we do see a relationship build between Sarah and female cop Rios (Krysten Cummings) which becomes explosive when a blast from the past makes a surprise appearance.

One of the real strengths of this film is that the claustrophobic tension is immense, even more so, I would suggest, than the first film. There are points where you feel like you, yourself are choking on cave dust.

The script is fairly good for a sequel though there is one really lame effort:

Q: “What are those things?”

A: “They’re Death.”

Boo!

Macdonald is brilliant, managing the unenviable task of portraying trauma, rage and survival instincts in the same breath.

Anybody familiar with the first film will know that the creatures are easy to hate. Scuttling around as they do, stark bollocked, thinking they’re hard. Stopping occasionally to sniff the air then squeal like bitches. Most of them are skinny, runt-like things akin to feral emo kids, who have watched too much Twilight, but towards the end we are treated to an alpha male. A big muscle-bound toe rag who would probably get a job working the door of Yates Wine Lodge, if they ever tamed the bastard.

There is a twist at the end which wound the hell up out of me, but I wager that it will appeal to horror fans who have lost their moral compass.

All in all, it was what it set out to be, an enjoyable piece of entertainment and as with the first film portrayed women as equal in ability to men and not scatty Aryans who cry and gibber in the face of danger.

First posted: Saturday, December 12th, 2009.

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