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The Descent (18)



Review by: Jack Foley | Rating: Two

DVD SPECIAL FEATURES: Commentary By Director And Cast; Commentary By Director And Production Crew; Making Of Featurette; Extended Scenes; Outtakes; Scene And Storyboard comparisons; Stills Galleries; Cast And Crew Biographies; Theatrical Trailer.

IT'S been a long time since a horror film actually had me cowering in my seat but Neil Marshall's The Descent did just that.

Three years on from his breakthrough hit, Dog Soldiers, Marshall has sharpened his horror skills to deliver one of the most terrifying chillers in recent memory - a bloody, brutal and downright nerve-shredding experience.

The premise is fairly simple. An all-female group of rock climbers go caving in America's Appalachian Mountains but find much more than they bargained for.

Not only are they in the wrong cave, but they become lost and trapped, forcing them to crawl through unchartered caverns in the hope of finding an exit.

The only trouble is, they're not alone. The cave in question is home to something beastly that has a lust for human flesh.

And to make matters worse, the women begin to turn on each other, thereby placing their chances of survival in further jeopardy.

The Descent bears all the hallmarks of your typical horror-fest - namely, women in peril and strange creatures hiding in the shadows.

It's also bound to draw comparisons with Marshall's own Dog Soldiers, which placed a group of men in a remote woodland area at the mercy of a tribe of werewolves.

Yet in spite of this, the film will have you screaming out loud and squirming in all the right places.

It opens with a jolt before settling down to allow viewers the time to get to know each character (including Natalie Mendoza's arrogant team leader and Shauna Macdonald's mentally unstable widow). Then the terror begins...

From the moment the women enter the cave viewers will be holding their breath thanks to a mounting sense of claustrophobia that's made all the more acute by the natural harshness of their underground environment.

The climbing and crawling sequences are just as terrifying as the horror itself (which is very gory) and Marshall has fun placing his cast in all manner of tricky predicaments.

Yet when the time comes to unveil his demonic monsters, the director does so with relish and their Gollum-style appearance and razor-sharp teeth are certain to bring on a severe case of the jitters.

I found myself reluctantly curling up into a ball at one stage, such is the unrelenting intensity of the final third of the movie.

All of which makes The Descent a film to savour not only for seasoned horror buffs, but for anyone seeking some genuine thrills as well.

It'll leave your nerves in tatters and gasping for breath right up until the final credits. It's a bloody brilliant treat.

The Descent: Neil Marshall interview

The Descent: Shauna Macdonald interview

The Descent: Natalie Mendoza interview

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