No, I don’t mean society’s devolution. I mean the film The Descent, a film you’ve probably never heard of, starring a bunch of people you’ve never heard of, and directed by yet another guy you’ve never heard of. At least I hadn’t, until I made the mistake of mentioning to Bizzo this apparently outrageous stain on my moral record.
WoodnShoePimp: i haven’t seen the descent. what’s the relationship between Neil Marshall and blind salamaders?
WhamBangThud: SEE THE MOVIE
WhamBangThud: DO IT NOW
WhamBangThud: Bizzo Club Rules
WhamBangThud: 3) Everyone sees The Descent
WhamBangThud: And see it for real, plz.
WhamBangThud: In a dark room, without distraction, on a decent screen.
WhamBangThud: You will thank me.
Now, liveblogging this unappreciated piece of cinematic genius probably violates the “without distraction” part of the Biz’s rant. But that’s how I roll. Cause if it’s not worth mocking, it’s not worth watching.
WoodnShoePimp:Â have you seen Descent ?
Wonderbear3000:Â Â no
Wonderbear3000:Â i own it though
WoodnShoePimp:Â the sci-fi horror thing?
Wonderbear3000: i think
Wonderbear3000: where they go into the cave?
Wonderbear3000: there are creepy people?
WoodnShoePimp: i haven’t seen it
WoodnShoePimp: but yeah it has something to do with caves
Wonderbear3000: you gonna watch it?
WoodnShoePimp: bizzo has insisted
Wonderbear3000: it looks terrible
WoodnShoePimp: yeah it does
However, I am in the dark, on a decent screen (which means I’m not watching it on my cellphone, I guess). I go into this fortified by three things: a healthy cynicism for movies in general and horror in particular; the knowledge that if this sucks, the Biz is coming down in four days and can be made to suffer; and a nigh-unlimited supply of jim beam. Blow-by-blow commentary, including spoilers galore, after the jump.
8:32: Drink in hand, the movie begins. The opening credits are terrifying.
8:34: Some day, they will make a horror film and cast a woman that isn’t stunningly attractive, and the world will explode.
8:36: “I’m distant because I’m about to die horribly!” says lead beautiful woman’s husband. And here I thought they were going to crash because they were on the wrong side of the road. Turns out they’re in England, and they were going to crash for no reason at all!
8:37: One of these days somebody’s going to tear off their medical equipment like that only to realize that “shit, I needed that to live!”
8:38: Okay, okay. “Appalachian Mountains, USA” is pretty scary. Have you ever been to Appalachia? If this movie makes me never want to go to West Virginia again, then I’m cool with that. Oh wait, I don’t want to go there anyway. Oh, banjo music. Classic.
8:41: “We don’t have to do this.” Do what? I smell a lesbian scene coming up.
8:42: Why do women always great each other with “You look fantastic!” This isn’t a comment about the movie, really. I’ve just always wondered.
8:43: More women. Still looking for one that doesn’t easily qualify as “amazing.”
8:44: Holy Christ. Right on cue. Spiky-haired butch lesbian “instructor.” See note for 8:41. I also amend my previous statement about beautiful women in horror films. Still, I don’t know if this counts, given that her character description at the head of the screenplay almost certainly contained the phrases “butch lesbian” and “noticeably less attractive than the rest of the cast.”
8:48: “You want adventure, Holly? When have I ever let you down.” Two drunk women in pj’s walk out of the cavern. Lesbian scene in 3â€¦ 2â€¦ 1â€¦
8:50: Least. Attractive. Pajamas. Evah. On that note, I need another drink.
8:55. I’m definitely the only person in the house. I’m glad this is a cave-based horror movie instead of a suburban-based flick. If this movie does end up legitimately frightening me, the rest of the evening will be decidedly unpleasant. I took the precaution of tivo-ing up a baseball game to help me “come down.”
8:58: If dreams of spikes crashing through peoples’ heads turns out to be a recurring theme in this movie, I’m gonna get really irritated. There’s a difference between well-crafted horror and “bad shit happening with no warning to freak you out.”
8:59: Ooh, the lead beautiful woman has a drug problem. The Plot Thickens.
9:01: Yeah, you always have to two-track it to tourist-trap caves with gift shops.
9:02: Sexy Asian beautiful woman puts the guidebook to the caves in the glove compartment. Do you thinkthey might get lost?
9:03: Who wears an ostentatiously-large wide-brim hat to go spelunking?
9:04: More with the “shit happening with no warning to freak you out.” This is why I don’t watch horror movies. Create tension, scare the bejeesus out of me. But if you do it by surprising me, then you’ve taken the easy way out. There’s a difference between a “scary movie” and a “surprising movie”
9:07: Hot Asian beautiful woman standing under the waterfall. Still waiting on that lesbian scene. This movie is such a tease.
9:07: Weird blood-red scratches on the wall. What coulds they means?!?!?!!11
9:08: Bad CGI bats = teh scary. Though the Sesame Street reference is fucking awesome. Take notes, directors.
9:12: Okay, they’ve gotten sloppy. If I can tell you in advance when something innocuous-but-surprising is going to happen, then it defeats the purpose.
9:13: Oh, backstory. I feel like the backstory in horror movies are only slightly less superfluous than backstories in porno. I know that there are going to be something involving eyeless salamanders. Just get to the fucking point already. It’s a 90 minute movie and we’re a third of the way in.
9:14: “This isn’t how I imagined it from reading the book.” Yeah, lesbian experiences are like that. Seriously though, is there really enough of an audience for a cave that involves hours of two-tracking and a hike to reach to involve an Idiots Guide to Borenam Caverns. Yet that appears to be what book she conspicuously left in the glove compartment @9:02.
9:20: Well, I’m feeling claustrophobic already. Drink break #2.
9:23: Turned on all the lights downstairs. While I can argue with the specifics of the movie, the atmosphere is definitely reaching me. Too many scary birds & bats. The viewing room remains dark.
9:24: I believe this part of the movie may be lost on those who don’t have a compulsive fear of tight places. It is not lost on me. Forget your scary monsters, I’m afraid of getting stuck in the damn cave. “Sarah, what are you afraid of?” “Getting fucking stuck 500 feet underground and not living long enough to consummate my love with you,” she should have answered.
9:25: Again, prescient. Real quote from the movie, while Juno (sexy Asian beautiful woman) is trying to calm Sarah down turn Sarah (lead beautiful woman) on: “Hey, you love this one, â€˜How do you give a lemon an orgasm?’ You tickle its citrus!”
9:29: We’re back to the dead-daughter-birthday-cake scary-o-gram. Last time this happened, we had a weird dream sequence when Sarah ran through a hospital as all the lights turned out around her. This time? I’m guessing not lesbian sex, as awful as that may be to comprehend.
9:30: Oh noes! She didn’t bring the guidebook! Who could have possibly seen this one coming!
9:32: “No one’s ever been down here before.” That’s what she said. Meanwhile, every member of the audience with a brain cell is snapping to the image of the bloody markings in the cave entrance (see 9:07).
9:35: “You selfish cow!” Again with the physical appearance comments.Â Has ever a man called another man a cow in anger? Probably. But the occurrences could probably be counted on one hand.
9:37: You know, I’m pretty engaged in the story line now, they probably could have made the movie about people escaping from the cave system without involving space-salamanders or whatever the fuck is coming up. Just sayin’.
9:38: There’s already a climbing thingy in the rocks! Could somebody have come down here previously to meet their doom? Probably.
9:39: The imagery of this crevasse has a definite Star Wars appeal to it. I almost want Sarah to grab Juno and swing across.
9:41: Potty break. Hey, we all gotta go.
9:54: No, 13 minutes is not an unreasonable time for a potty break. Shut up. In unrelated news, the number of Safeway shopping carts parked outside my house has doubled. No idea.
9:57: “This equipment is at least 100 years old. Nobody uses stuff like this anymore.” Here’s hoping for zombie 19th century spelunkers. Lesbian zombie 19th century spelunkers.
9:59: Cave drawings. Awesome. Please let this turn into a hard-core anthropological analysis of prehistoric American cave-dwellers. No? Damn. At least they’ve done away with the unnecessarily surprise innocuous occurrences.
10:02: You can see daylight? I think not. Death #1? No. Unnecessarily grotesque compound fracture #1. Could a hubris-induced compound leg fracture complicate the rest of their movements? Most definitely! The plot continues to thicken, like cake batter. Good thing they have a doctor-in-training with them!
10:05: A weird artifact, and strange noises in the dark. A strange being in the dark!Â Is this a sign of things to come? “There’s nothing there,” says Juno. Currently taking bets on whether she will be wrong. Current odds are 1:100,000,000.
10:07: “We need to get [butch lesbian character] out of here! That’s the only thing that matters right now!” Because apparently saving their own lives wasn’t impetus enough? Just keep laying on the motivation, Neil Marshall.
10:09: Just out of curiosity, and this is my lack of spelunking knowledgeâ€¦ when you notice airflow in the tunnel (courtesy of your conveniently brought zippo)â€¦ do you move against the breeze, hoping it’s coming in from outside, or with the breeze, because it’s air escaping the tunnel system?
10:10: Fifty minutes into the movie and still no eyeless salamanders. I am disappointed.
10:12: They come across a pile of human bones. Fucking awesome.
10:13: Could their shouting bring on the inevitable bad guys? Of course. Note: the bad guys are successfully scary. Something about completely hairless pseudo-humans always terrifies me. I’m glad we’re finally into the “scary” part of the scary movie. Somebody kill this pseudo-human already.
10:16: Juno’s hell with a blade. Sorta inevitable that she’d kill one of her friends. Weak sauce, Juno. Weak sauce.
10:17: The audible breathing of the pseudo-humans is convincingly scary. Thank you.
10:18: Scary pseudo-human hovered in the cavern. Nicely done. But why are all scary semi-human beings always hairless? Is the loss of hair indicative of a loss of humanity? I feel like, given evolution, the opposite occurs. Anyway.
10:20: The well-worn tripe of “dead daughter” effectively transforms into one of the pseudo-humans. Nicely done. Create a clichÃ© and the fuck with it. Though the infra-red borders on Blair Witch-itis.
10:24: Infra-red view of pseudo-humans cannibalizing it up: nicely done. I’m fucking freaked. Though really, if we’re taking the Biz’s view of what would happen if mankind evolved shut underground: first, wouldn’t it take hundreds of thousands of years for mankind to evolve/devolve to lacking eyes? And second, what the fuck is there to eat down there that would enable a subterranean species to survive for those hundreds of thousands of years? The dead bones describe both human and canine victims, but I can’t believe that enough of either species would throw themselves in a pit and through a tunnel and over a ledge to support a whole inbred species.
10:32: Scavenging the dead? Seriously? They’re ten minutes to eating each other. Oh, it’s for a torch. Old-school, nicely done.
10:35: Really, you’d think that a species who couldn’t see at all would be at a pretty big disadvantage in a fight with people who could see and had flashlights. Seriously. It’s like the blind hobo versus the drunk hobo in HoboFights. What, you haven’t seen it? Smoke break. I’m glad I turned on all the lights downstairs. Was definitely worried that a sub-human might jump off my roof and kill me.
10:42: Go ahead, kick the dead sub-human. That’ll do some good.
10:45: Oh, they go the surface to hunt and bring their food back down to the cave to eat. Cause being “completely blind” will give them a huge fucking advantage hunting on the surface. Why did they evolve to lose their eyes, anyway?
10:47: “Juno did this to me. Don’t trust her. Find your own way out.” Ooh, Foreshadowing.Â There’s a word that comes to mind: “clumsy.”
10:50: Wow. Sarah kills the wounded. Hard-core. And then kills a sub-human. Continuing the hard-coreness. Wait is that one sub-human mourning for another sub-human? Oh, they have feelings. KILL THEM ALL.
10:52: What the fuck did Sarah fall into? A bloody goo? And: kudos on the unnecessarily violent killing of the lady-subhuman. The killing of the next sub-human was much more satisfying. You go, girl.
10:54: Way to leave Sarah behind. Classy. YOU’RE A WOMAN WITH A WEIRD IMPROVISED WEAPON AGAINST A BUNCH OF BLIND GUYS. WHAT ARE YOU AFRAID OF.
10:57: CEILING SUB-HUMAN IS WATCHING YOU MASTURBATE. AND DIE.
10:58: They’re going a little heavy with the killing off people. By my count, only Juno and Sarah are alive. Re: Juno: you’re damn lucky that that crevice was filled with water. And how the hell does a species that hunts entirely by sound effectively fight underwater?
11:00: Sarah looks scary as fuck. Is she the bad guy or are the sub-humans?
11:03: Great fight against the sub-humans. Complete with the kicking-in-the-nuts. HA YOU BASTARDS I CAN SEE YOU.
11:04: Wait is Sarah going to kill Juno or is it going to be LESBIAN SEX? I’m guessing against lesbian sex, personally. At this point, it would just be out of place.
11:05: Holy shit she did hit her. Her one ally against the mass of sub-humans, and she left her for dead. Worst. Move. Ever. And then she trips and falls down a crevasse. BET YOU WISH YOU HAD A FRIEND NOW. The odds of this ending up in some sort of lesbian sex scene just dropped to zero. The best they could do now is some solo masturbation scene, and I don’t think ol’ Neil has the chops for it.
11:07: Oh wait it doesn’t matter cause she’s climbing a pile of bones to the surface. You lucked out, bitch. Still: why the fuck did she kill Juno?
11:09: Waiting for a sub-human to jump out of the trunkâ€¦
11:10: WHAT THE FUCK THE ESCAPE WAS JUST A DREAM?
11:10: Again with the birthday cake. Yes, we’ve all noticed that it’s the theme to the movie. Dead girl birthday cake. Yummy. My guess is, Sarah’s about to die. But how the fuck can there be a sequel?
11:12: Of course it ends with nobody surviving. Fucking horror movie trope. What the fuck. You know, by the end, I got so immune to the cliché of it all that I just stopped caring. It wasn’t a surprise that nobody made it out alive; it was slightly more surprising that they just left Sarah staring into nothing fantasizing about her dead daughter. But only slightly. Why they couldn’t give her the respect of an on-screen death is beyond me. It wouldn’t have taken much effort, and would have given some closure to the film. As it is, it ended the same way a million high-school fantasy fic’s have ended: “OH NOES, WHAT’S GOING TO HAPPEN NOW?” Seriously. The movie had me until Sarah killed Juno, and then it got lost in its own cavern of seriously bad narrative decisions. It had a lot of potential, and lived up to some of it, but in the endâ€¦ FAIL.
Final thoughts: After the movie, I went outside, and thought I heard screaming. Sent shivers up my spine. Did the movie succeed in scaring me? Yes. Did it succeed as a movie? Not so much. That being said, I’m gonna go watch Scrubs and clear my mind.