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The Descent (R)

Release Date: August 4th, 2006 by Lionsgate Films.
The Cast: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone, Oliver Milburn, Molly Kayll.
Directed by Neil Marshall.

BASIC PREMISE: Six girlfriends go spelunking and get trapped in a cave with deadly creatures.

ENTERTAINMENT VALUE: A gruesome accident in the opening scene reminds you that this wonít be a typical adventure film. After the accident, Sarah (Macdonald) wakes up in a hospital and has a terrifying hallucination. The first act remains relatively tranquil as she and her five girlfriends, Juno (Mendoz), Beth (Reid), Rebecca (Mulder), Sam (Buring) and Holly (Noone), go rafting in a rapid river. They spend the night at a cabin the woods and, finally, in the morning, all go spelunking with Juno as their leader. As they descent into the dark cavern of the cave, the adventure wanes and the horror begins. What makes The Descent truly horrifying is the setting and look of the cave itself. With its twisted passage-ways, strange sounds and eerie shadows, itís like a world of its own where anything can happen. You feel youíre with spelunkers during their horrific experiences. Donít worry; none of the scares will the spoiled here. Even though none of the characters are fully developed or memorable, you still like them enough to care about whether or not they will dieóand it soon becomes a question of how some of the might die. True horror fans will be happy to know that there is a fine balance between macabre, shocking violence and a creepy atmosphere while the movie definitely lives up to its R-rating. The pernicious, blood-thirsty creatures arenít particularly originalótheyíre just very mutated organisms with human-like traits. At least, thanks to great special effects, they look very frightening, especially with their slimy skin. Writer/director Neil Marshall does a great job of building up the terror with fake scares and plenty of real scares while maintaining a general sense of dread, claustrophobia, discomfort and, above all, nail-biting suspense.

SPIRITUAL VALUE: By the end of this gruesome scare-fest, youíll be relieved to get a breath of fresh air and appreciate being above ground.

INSULT TO YOUR INTELLIGENCE: None, as long as you suspend your disbelief.


IN A NUTSHELL: Relentlessly chilling and terrifying with nail-biting suspense. Finally, a truly great horror film that should not be watched alone in the dark.

RECOMMENDED WAY TO WATCH: Movie Theater (1st Run

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