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The Descent - horror/sci-fi DVD review
THE DESCENT rated R by the Motion Picture Association of America curledupdvd.com rating: 4 1/2 stars
Actors: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Jackson Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder
Director: Neil Marshall   Studio: Lions Gate
DVD release: 26 Dec. 2006   Runtime: 99 minutes (1 disc)
Format: Closed-captioned, Color, Dolby, Subtitled, Widescreen, NTSC
DVD features: Subtitles (English, Spanish), Audio tracks (English, Dolby Digital 5.1 EX; English, Dolby Digital 2.0), Commentaries (Marshall & crew; Marshall & cast), "The Descent: Behind the Scenes," "DescENDING" (interview w/ Marshall), Deleted & extended scenes, Outtakes, Stills gallery, Cast & crew biographies

Written and directed by Neil Marshall of Dog Soldiers fame, The Descent is a way-above-average mix of action, adventure, and horror wrapped up in one terrific (more accurately, terrifying) package. The concept is deceptively simple: six women meet in a remote part of the Appalachians to go spelunking in an unexplored cavern. It's part of their yearly adventure, but that isn't where the story starts. The movie opens a year earlier, with Sarah and friends whitewater rafting. A tragic accident while driving with her husband and young daughter leaves Sarah the sole survivor of her small family. Flash-forward to present time with an emotionally scarred Sarah (Shauna MacDonald), the physically strong Juno (Natalie Mendoza), Beth, Rebecca, Sam and Holly.

Here we get to know the characters during some bonding between the women as they drink, take pictures and enjoy their vacation. Soon enough, they make their way down into the destination cave, where Juno decides to explore an area they never expected to explore; she also hasn't brought the map. Now they are off in an unexpected direction when a rockfall traps them. As they desperately try to find a way out, the women encounter savage creatures, and the friendship dynamic is shattered to pieces.

There is much to like about this film. Though played by an ensemble cast, there is just enough individuality given to each character to differentiate them and make you care. The cinematography is excellent, especially considering that a good portion is shot in the dark (the red light of the flares is quite effective in creating atmosphere). The monsters themselves are sufficiently scary in the dark, claustrophobic environment, and there is enough blood and gore to satisfy today's horror standards. All in all, The Descent is an excellent horror film that separates itself enough from the current trend with skilful writing and direction.
reviewed by Bobby Blades
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