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August 07, 2006 - Image 10

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Publication:
Michigan Daily Summer Weekly, 2006-08-07

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10 - The Michigan Daily - Monday, August 7, 2006
Marshall's latest serves
up claustrophobic terror

By Mary Kate Varnau
Daily Arts Writer

takes its tim
in the group
parts wheret
ally and phy
little clues-

Neil Marshall acquired a loyal fanbase crevices, ev
with his 2002 action/horror flick, "Dog Sol- that they are
diers." Werewolves vaulted his career into With abou
the limelight. And now, like glimpse
bloodthirsty cave-dwell- audience th
ing creatures will ensure The Descent before the nt
that it stays there. Mar- At the Showcase pretty slowu
shall wrote and directed and the Quality 16 off and rune
"The Descent," which Lions Gate blur of inte
bears many comparisons to unmitigated
Bruce Hunt's 2005 thriller "The De
"The Cave," only with an all-female cast and ness. It's a c
an overall better product. Marshall fans will screechinga
not be disappointed in his newest endeavor ly fight tacti
- they'll be terrified. with which
The first hour of "The Descent" is an use everyth
eerie, claustrophobic documentation of six dried out hu
friends' spelunking adven-
ture gone wrong. The story 'The Descent' is
centers around Sarah (Shauna
McDonald, best known for her the most artful
work in the British television
series "Spooks"), who loses of the summer's
her husband and only child in
the first five minutes of the neverending
film. A year after the acci-
dent, her friends rally the old horror train.
group together for a caving
expedition. But the venture goes sour when film. She's a
the exit collapses and the party finds out that to survive, c
one of their own tricked them into exploring kicking more
an undiscovered site. is subpar, es
The six fumble their way through pitch- not in a way
black passages, meeting life-threatening chal- In most h
lenges and injuries. The first half of the film characters i

ne establishing an insipid friction
dynamic, becoming laborious in
the women struggle both emotion-
sically. Sarah is the first to notice
- noises echoing softly through
idence of previous spelunkers -
not alone in the cave.
t a half hour left, we seea "Signs"-
of a creature from far away. The
inks that we'll have a breather
ext encounter, as the pace has been
up to this point, but no. Marshall's
fning. The next 30 minutes are a
nse, fleeting suspense met with
gore and horror.
scent" revels in its gruesome-
elebration of tearing flesh, raspy
and moments of unexpected, gris-
ics. The women have no weapons
to combat the predators, so they
ing from their climbing picks to
man bones to defend themselves.
In what is possibly the gori-
est scene of the film, Sarah
kills one of the creatures by
jamming both of her thumbs
into his eyes sockets and
pushing down all the way to
her palms.
Sarah, the character who
began as the most demoral-
ized and mousy, becomes Car-
rie on crack by the end of the
woman possessed by the instinct
overed in blood from head to toe,
re ass than Lara Croft. The acting
pecially on McDonald's part, but
that takes away from the terror.
orror movies, the sexuality of the
s played up to the extreme. And

"Sex and the City" + "Survivor" = 'The Descent"

with a premise like this (six women trapped in
a cave together), the viewer comes in expect-
ing some shamelessly low-cut spelunking gear.
But it doesn't happen. Each of the women is
beautiful in the classical sense, and hardly
sexualized at all.
"The Descent" is the most artful of the
summer's neverending horror train. Marshall

lulls his audience into a relaxed (albeit some-
what uneasy) state in the first half, then finds
new, stomach-clenching ways to shock in the
second. Horror aficionados will delight in the
summer's goriest film and the viewers who are
wary of thrillers will be pleased, as this is the
kind of movie that terrifies in the moment but
doesn't haunt you later.

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