Movie Review by Neil Sadler
Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Krysten Cummings, Gavin O’Herlihy
Director: Jon Harris
Generally there is a rule of diminishing returns with sequels especially horror ones. This is probably because sequels often only see the light of day if the original is successful and in that case all that is required is that they be exactly the same as the original but with higher gore factor. Luckily THE DESCENT PART TWO is a much better than the average horror sequel. It is far better than a lot of other horror remakes around at the moment.
Having survived the events of THE DESCENT, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) is found by the police and suspected of being involved with the disappearance of the rest of her party. Unable to remember what happened in the caves she is taken back along with a search party in the hope that she can lead them to the survivors. You can guess it doesn’t go well for any of them.
The premise of the original and this film is very similar – so far so sequel – but what both the original and this film do very well is use the claustrophobia of the caves to great effect. Although much of the horror comes from what lurks in the caves, the filmmakers use the caves themselves as a source of many of the scares.
And there are scares a plenty. Many of them are of the shock variety – things leap out at you from the dark – and there are plenty of unexpected jumps. It is the first film I have seen for a while where people in the audience actually screamed (not me, of course!)
The confined and deadly environment is used to great effect. It is not only the creatures that could kill our cast but the caves themselves. In one fraught scene involving tight spaces, water and falling rocks – the whole audience seemed to be holding their breath with the actors.
The gore quotient is higher in the sequel. I don’t have a problem with gore but when you know that what you are seeing is fake, watching a very visceral scene especially when it drags on, can kill the tension.
The creatures themselves are suitably vicious. I didn’t notice much evolution from the first film. I always felt that they were far scarier when you heard them than saw them and here too, they are rarely focused on for too long. Scares are much worse in the imagination.
There isn’t much room for character here. The film introduces a lot of characters very quickly and some suffer from being a bit too thinly painted to really care about. As with the first film, the main characters are female and as before these are not your usual horror film “victims.” In every instance they give as good as they get and no one goes down without a fight!
There are some excellent scenes involving Shauna Macdonald and Krysten Cummings who gives an extremely assured first film role. With very few lines of dialogue, these actresses make their characters both real and sympathetic. It allows the audience to invest in their well being and truly want them to survive – something which I often find lacking in horror films. What both Marshall and Jon Harris manage in these films is to make a set of characters you want to survive to the end.
First time director Jon Harris does Neil Marshall’s original justice and crafts a film that fans of the original can relish but also should encourage new scare fans who want a genuinely scary relief from bad remakes.