GUEST MOVIE REVIEW by Karissa Laurel: The Descent

Mother & Son Horror Movie Review: The Descent

I’d originally planned do a review, with my 19 y.o. son, of Train to Busan, which was one of my favorite horror movies watched in the previous year. I’m always a sucker for a good Zombie flick, and this was one of the best I’ve seen in a while. (Go watch it. Keep some tissues nearby for the ending). But I kept getting lured into watching other horror movies, so he and I never got around to watching it again for the purposes of writing a review.

I also thought I might do a review of Midnight Mass, which is definitely my favorite horror film/series of the year and probably cements Mike Flannagan as my new favorite horror director. Yes it was brutal But it was so brilliantly written and acted. It was perhaps the most sympathetic horror story I’ve ever watched. However, the kiddo hasn’t watched it yet, and although I’ve tried talking him into it, he’s been reluctant.

Ultimately I decided to ask my son what horror movie he thought I should watch, and he picked one of his most favorites: The Descent (2005), which you can watch for free right now if you have Amazon Prime. First, can I say how thrilled I was to find out one of my son’s favorite horror movies features a band of totally badass women? It passes the Bechdel Test with flying colors, and while it has tons of gore and brutal fight scenes, it features absolutely zero sexual violence. I’m so proud. wipes proud mom tear from eye. While the movie poster features a quote that says something about it being the best horror thriller since Alien, I can’t quite agree with that statement. But I will say it was worth the hour or so I spent on it.

Here’s a blurb from Amazon: A girls’ trip to explore a [unmapped and “undiscovered”] labyrinth of North Carolina caves takes a terrifying turn in this spelunking scarefest.

Horror is highly subjective. What scares one person won’t scare another. In this case, the horror relies a lot on claustrophobia. I don’t necessarily have a nagging fear of enclosed spaces, though. In fact, I’ve explored quite a few caves over the years and always marveled at the experience in a positive way. But I think it’s fair to say that particularly element went over well (or dreadfully) with my son. There’s also the fact that he was born in West Virginia (mountain territory) and spends a lot of time there with extended family. He has intimate experience with old, abandoned mines and such and gets a kick out of exploring them for the horror thrill of it. I talked to him more in depth about this movie after we watched it this past weekend, and here’s what he had to say:

Me: Why is The Descent one of your favorites, and what about it, in particular, makes it scary for you?

D: The reason I like decent is because it’s a breath of fresh air.

Me: In what way?

D: I feel as if it’s similar to horror movies of that time but mixes physical horror with psychological horror. You have cramped areas, no map, no one knows we’re you are…

Me: So, it’s like the perfect storm of bad luck, and that type of construct is also kind of believable.

D: And growing up visiting mountains a lot makes this story scary because these things come up to hunt, and yeah that was a great way to put that storm of bad luck. Like, could they hunt you?

Me: What would you say was your most favorite scene or element? Or what one thing really stood out to you in this movie, where you were like: Oh that was cool! Or, That was especially scary! (WARNING: HIS ANSWER INCLUDES A SPOILER)

D: My favorite moment was when the main character is fighting the girl creature in the pit and has to kill it with a tooth bone. It shows truly how desperate she is to live plus how badass/resourceful she is.

Me: Oh yeah. That was a great (disgusting) scene.

D: Yeah, that’s why it’s my favorite. LOL.

Me: Anything else we should say about this movie?

D: If you like two badass women kicking creature butts, watch this movie.

Me: LOL. That’s perfect, actually.

Ultimately, the movie didn’t really scare me because the claustrophobia factor, a big element, didn’t elicit as strong of feeling of dread in me as it did for my son. I also felt the “monster” factor could have used a lighter touch, particularly in building suspense in the beginning. I would’ve liked more teasing, more suspense. I think the monster element could have happened more subtly over time until one big shocking reveal and the fight to stay alive and escape thereafter.

I can’t say, however, that the idea of trapping a group of women in a cave that has no obvious escape route, and then sending a ravenous horde that has evolved to thrive in the underground gloom after them, isn’t a great recipe for a horror film. It was, and it’s not a bad way to spend a Saturday afternoon this Halloween season. Besides, as I said before, horror is subjective. This movie might be the one that perfectly tickles your horror bone.


Boo-graphy:
Karissa Laurel lives in North Carolina with her kid, her husband, the occasional in-law, and a very hairy husky named Bonnie. Some of her favorite things are coffee, dark chocolate, superheroes, and Star Wars. She can quote Princess Bride verbatim. In the summer, she’s camping, kayaking, and boating at the lake, and in the winter, she’s skiing or curled up with a good book. She is the author of the Urban Fantasy trilogy, The Norse Chronicles; Touch of Smoke, a stand-alone paranormal romance; and The Stormbourne Chronicles, a YA second-world fantasy trilogy.

Serendipity at the End of the World
Serendipity Blite and her sister, Bloom, use their unique talents to survive the apocalyptic aftermath of the Dead Disease. When Bloom is kidnapped, Sera is determined to get her back. Attempting a rescue mission in an undead-infested city would be suicidal, so Sera forms a specialized team to help retrieve her sister. But unfortunate accident sets Sera teetering on the edge of death. She must fight to save her own life, because surviving could mean finding family, love, and possibly a cure.

You can find it on Kindle Vella
New episodes come out every Saturday

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