Hello and welcome to another new segment where we throw people in the deep end of something they don’t like to see what all the fuss is about. We may find new appreciation for genres we never delve into or re-inforcing the preconceptions we have always held. This time, David Osbon watched The Descent…
Out of the entire genre, why did you choose The Descent?
It’s been sitting in my own ‘Pile of Shame’ since last year. I picked it up after reading that some of the inspiration of the writing of the Tomb Raider game reboot came from this film. The premise of an all female cast in a horror movie setting struck me as being unique. The reviews for the movie also seemed decent compared with the majority of movies in the horror genre.
Did the film scare you at all?
There’s a few moments that made me jump right at the beginning of The Descent before the group traverse into the cave system. Unfortunately once I took the cue that those moments were to become more regular there’s nothing really scary about the experience. The Descent does play on the fear of the dark, claustrophobia, being trapped and isolated underground really well. The foreboding that comes from being lost with no escape is handled well but no I wasn’t ‘scared’
“I honestly think the film could have been longer to build the tension better between the action.”
So you don’t like horror. Is The Descent now an exception to that?
It’s true the banal slasher style horror films don’t do much for me. I have watched plenty of them in my time and hardly ever come away from the experience feeling like I’d spent those couple of hours in a positive way. The Descent had more going for it and there’s a little bit of a revenge tale in there too.
There’s often characters designed to get on your nerves. Did you feel that about any of the characters and what did they do to make it such?
There are six women that make up the main cast of this film with each bringing something to the group. There are some very obvious plus a few subtle nudges towards making Juno – self-elected leader type – the less likeable character of the group. She’s a risk-taker who’s too self-confident for her own good and there’s also an implication of cheating on one of her friends right at the start of the film.
The obvious candidate for the most likeable character is Sarah; due to her loss at the very beginning of the film it pushes you to have some empathy with her before even knowing anything about her real character.
Horror often works by killing off quite a few characters. Do you feel the right person survived?
Depends which version of The Descent you watch. The US release has a less ambiguous ending while the version I watched had an ending that fits the horror genre well but I’m not sure that I like it any better.
The villains/monsters in horror films are the star attraction. How do you feel they were handled in the film?
Pretty well. Although the villain is not just what is found underground and they are not featured too heavily either.
Were there any points in the story that you felt weren’t quite explained properly? If so, how do you think they could’ve made it better?
The underlying story of the origins of the now Troglofauna inhabitants of the cave are hinted at but not explored to any real depth. I’d like to have seen more made/discovered about their origins. Then again once that part of the film had been reached the groups numbers had diminished pretty spectacularly.
There’s a lot of horror based around the concept of going outside of Urban areas. Do you think the story would work in a more urban setting? Why?
The Descent works best in the outskirts of urban life. It could work within an urban setting but would have to be after a breakdown in society otherwise the element of being cut off from the rest of mankind can’t be empathised.
Survival is usually the closest characters can get to a victory in horror films. How much of a victory does it feel?
“There are some very obvious plus a few subtle nudges towards making Juno – self-elected leader type – the less likeable character of the group.”
There’s lots of different sub-genres for horror (e.g. slasher, gore, psychological horror, etc…). Does this fit neatly into one or does it have a mix of them all?
Oh it’s a psychological horror/gore film. No doubts about that. The blood doesn’t arrive until the last third of the film but when it does arrive those moments are handled well. I honestly think the film could have been longer to build the tension better between the action. The 95 mins don’t do the meat of the film justice and an extra 20-30 minutes could have produced some greater depth to the characters and the situation they find themselves in.
Does this make you feel like you want to explore more of the horror genre?
Yes and no. I don’t go looking for films that market themselves as ‘horror’ because in the main it’s a genre that struggles to do anything new. I prefer to watch TV horror shows like The Walking Dead or Hannibal for my fill of dramatic human survival in the worst of circumstances. TV seems to time and again outshine film for really thought provoking horror.
Do you feel like you’ve gained a little appreciation for the genre, or has your views on it remained as they were?
The views I have about horror haven’t changed. If anything watching The Descent has gone some way to reinforced how I feel about the genre. Maybe I’ve missed some excellent horror films that readers may know about but like the point I made in the above answer, until that day comes I’ll be sticking to my TV horror diet.