Neill Marshall’s The Descent: A Review by Nate Hill 

Don’t watch Neil Marshall’s The Descent if you suffer from claustrophobia. Just… don’t. This film does for caves what Alien did for derelict space stations and what The Ring did for videotapes. Cleverly combining close quarters panic, the gnawing fear of losing your way in a near infinite set of tunnels and some visceral, throat ripping terror, it’s one horror package that will leave you reeling. I believe this is the one that put Marshall on the map, and since then he’s been doing mostly medieval style action adventure (he helmed the pilot for Game Of Thrones). This is his first, and most effective outing in a really solid career. The premise is simple: a group of girls decide to go on an excursion deep within a cave system in Eastern Europe. They run into a string of bad luck though, as they first find themselves hopelessly, sickeningly lost. Then the real fun begins as they realize they’re not alone down there, and that something is hunting them. Terrifying subterranean creatures emerge like Gollum on bathsalts, fast, wiry, agile terrors from the deep that know the system inside out and prey on these poor girls one by one. Once they show up its a chaotic bloody free for all that will shred your nerves, but I almost found everything leading up to that even more scary. The slow buildup where they realize they are just so lost and may be stuck down there forever just puts a knot in your stomach and instills a hopeless dread that can’t really be equalled by any monster or gory scene. Still, those things are pretty gnarly and provide more than a few wicked scares, especially when the girls first catch fleeting glimpses of them around corners and between cracks, dismissing them as tricks of the light. Marshall also employs cunning narrative tricks to perpetuate the lack of any kind of way out, one in particular that just curdles the blood in its ruthless, resolute sense of doom. The scariest film you will ever see set in a cave, and one of the premier fright fests ever made.  

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