It’s no secret that one of my favorite movies in the past 10 years is Neil Marshall’s “The Descent”. It is by far the best horror movie to come out in the last decade (along with 28 Days Later) and ranks up there with one of the best horror movies ever. The sense of fear and tension in the cave environment, not to mention claustrophobia, are enough to make your skin crawl, but then Marshall throws in some terrifying creatures and the movie really takes shape. I’m not even claustrophobic, but the original movie makes me nervous every time I watch it. I don’t think there’s any way you could get me to crawl through some of the tight spots that the characters wiggle through. So naturally when I heard they were making a sequel I was both excited and annoyed.
There may be some spoilers regarding the 1st movie after this point, so if you have not seen “The Descent” I suggest not reading further.
Sequels are generally looked at as lower budget knock offs that rarely ever live up to the hype generated by their predecessors. I was also a bit confused as to how they were going to pull off a sequel considering the “real” ending of the original one. And as I expected they used the U.S. releases ending instead of the original U.K. ending. I kind of knew that they would go this route which was fine, but I really like the original ending and it seemed to complete the story much better where as the U.S. ending was clearly made that way so they could exploit the movie and create a sequel, which is also ok by me. I was also a little bit leary with the fact that Neil Marshall was not going to be directing this one, but the fact that some of the original cast was back made me feel a little better.
Part 2 picks up right where the U.S. version ended, Sarah has made it out of the cave leaving Juno with a pick axe in her leg to try to survive amongst the creatures of the underground. Upon escaping the clutches of hell, Sarah makes her way to a road and flags down a passing car. Meanwhile the police have launched a search and rescue team to the cave that the girls filed with the Parks Department (or whoever manages that stuff), which is obviously not the cave that the girls ended up in. The sheriff gets a call informing him that Sarah has been found alive and they secretly move the rescue mission to the other cave system.
That’s the basic plot of the movie and if you’ve seen the original you kind of know how things go once they get into the cave. It’s essentially a very similar movie, but without Marshall at the helm and without an original story, the movie becomes fairly predictable. There are still some moments of tension with regards to claustrophobia and the darkness of the caves, but the creature moments are way too cliche. There were also some random editing choices which didn’t seem to fit to me in regard to Sarah trying to remember what happened to her and her friends in the cave before (when she’s rescued she can’t remember anything).
One thing I did not like about “Part 2” is the choice of lighting used by the director/crew. In the original Marshall tried to keep the atmosphere as real as he could using only light sources that would be present in the caves, which is basically helmet lights and flashlights. There were a few glow sticks and flares, but for the most part everything was lit exactly how you would see it. Obviously there had to be a little bit of outside light to keep the movie from being completely dark, but it was minimal. In “Part 2”, however, it seemed like there was a lot of light in the caves that shouldn’t have been there. It definitely helped display a scene better, but it also took away from the tension that the first one built up so well. Even the tight cave scenes didn’t seem as real and tight as the original. I know that most of the cave system was built on a sound stage for both movies, but the caves in Part 2 just didn’t really seem as gritty and scary as the original caves. I also thought that the introduction of the creatures was too soon, but I guess that’s more of what this one was about since we already know there are creatures down there now so there’s no sense in making us wait.
So while I did enjoy “The Descent: Part 2” it wasn’t as good as the original, which is to be expected. If you’re a fan of the original I would say that it’s pretty safe to check out the sequel. There’s a few twists and turns, some of which are pretty obvious, but I think you’ll enjoy it.