Saturday, May 1, 2010

The Descent 2 (2010) review


Shauna Macdonald (Sarah), Michael J. Reynolds (Ed Oswald), Jessika Williams (Susanna Small), Douglas Hodge (Dan), Joshua Dallas (Greg), Anna Skellern (Cath), Gavan O'Herlihy (Sheriff Vaines), Krysten Cummings (Jenna Rios), Josh Cole (Lynch), Saskia Mulder (Rebecca), Natalie Mendoza (Juno), Alex Reid (Beth), Nora-Jane Noone (Holly), MyAnna Buring (Sam)

Directed by Jon Harris

THE DESCENT 2 is more of the same, but it has enough creative moments that fans of the original should enjoy it. It's an overly grim movie with a suitably nasty mean streak and a totally nihilistic ending that goes a bit farther than the one seen in the original UK version.

Sarah Carter, being the sole survivor of a cave excursion, is found and taken to a hospital. Remembering nothing of her ordeal, a rescue expedition is mounted to descend into the bowels of the cave in an effort to locate the remainder of Sarah's party. Sarah joins the group and slowly begins to recall her terrifying ordeal. Soon, the group becomes trapped and hunted by the carnivorous crawlers. While trying to stay alive, the dwindling group of rescuers find that Sarah wasn't the only survivor.

Pretty much everyone involved in the first DESCENT encores for the second go round. Neil Marshall also returns, but only as an Executive Producer. If you've seen the original, than you've seen this one, too. There's very little difference between them. The differences are instead of all women, it's both men and women descending into the dark pit of hell. Another difference are some less than stellar performances.

Somebody has gotten inspiration from some of Bruno Mattei's "finest" film work

Probably the most notable variance is an omnipresent air of meanspiritedness. The violence is a lot stronger and some of the characters die ignominiously. There's definitely no subtlety in the gore department. The red stuff and various viscous fluids flow freely once the crew gets down into the caverns. The movie is sort of plain-jane until then and definitely gets better once the action shifts underground.

Director, Harris copies much of what made the original so damn good. This is both good and bad. He does occasionally mix things up a bit to throw off your expectations. This is especially apparent at the end. The ending is totally out of left field. It travels familiar territory, then just when you think you've seen it before, your expectations are crushed in a scene that totally adds one more ungenerous moment before the end credit crawl.

Several of the key characters return to their roles here with the most surprising being Mendoza as Juno. When she shows up, she's almost as feral as the Crawlers. She and Sarah have a literal butting of heads, but eventually try to work together to get out of the cave of death alive. Gavin O'Herlihy is a nice addition to the cast. He was the sadistic Fraker in DEATH WISH 3 (1985) and a memorable heavy in a lot of other movies, too. He plays a good guy here as the sheriff. He's almost unrecognizable with his beard.

The Crawlers look the same for the most part aside from being a bit more bulky. One of them is apparently the leader as he/it looks like he's been pumping iron. Some of the best sequences here are merely retreads of the same thing from Marshall's original (they even milk one of the shocks from the first film when the group finds a camcorder from one of the victims), but there's enough new situations to mix it up a bit for fans of Marshall's original DESCENT.

THE DESCENT 2 (2010) is a good enough sequel. It's not better than the original and only a slightly lesser movie. It tries too damn hard to be scary and succeeds a couple times, while the rest come off as cheap scares. It's one of the most oft used horror movie recipes; a few seconds of silence, add a musical sting then something jumps at the camera. Stir and repeat. THE DESCENT 2 has this in spades. Not a bad thing, but it happens so much, it loses its power.

The sense of claustrophobia returns as well and if you're afraid of tight spaces, you may want to give this one a pass. After reading the synopsis, though, no one should go into this expecting anything any different than the same old song and dance. On that level, this sequel delivers.

This review is representative of the Lionsgate DVD

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