"The biggest surprise about The Descent: Part 2 is that it isn’t actually terrible; it’s a passable survival horror movie with the prerequisite amounts of gore"
British horror is in a bit of a rut at the moment. As we draw to the end of the year we’ve had abominations like Lesbian Vampire Killers, Red Mist and Doghouse inflicted upon us. Even the occasional good films like Triangle or Hush wasn’t enough to inspire massive enthusiasm and low-budget promises largely failed to deliver in the form of Colin. So can The Descent Part 2 provide us with the sprint finish that we all deserve? After all, it’s the sequel to one of the best British horrors ever made, so it’s got a strong pedigree, even if the premise seems a bit dodgy on paper.
Set two days after the original movie, it sees a traumatised and bloodied Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) recovering in hospital after narrowly escaping the underground lair of a bunch of sub-human flesh eaters and unable to remember what happened to her five friends. Local Sheriff Vaines (Gavan O'Herlihy) suspects that she knows more than she’s letting on and unsympathetic to her addled state, demands that she be dragged along with an underground search party.
So everyone gets suited and booted and Sarah is forced back down into the nightmare from which she just escaped aided by Deputy Elen Rios (Krysten Cummings) and caving rescue team Dan (Douglas Hodge), Greg (Joshua Dallas) and Kath (Anna Skellern).
Predictably, almost as soon as you can say “cave in”, they’re separated, trapped and stalked by the same flesh-eating ghouls that Sarah and friends faced last time. Fortunately Sarah decides that this would be a good time to get her memory back but whether or not she’ll survive a second round against the colony of man-eating Gollums is another matter.
The biggest surprise about The Descent: Part 2 is that it isn’t actually terrible; it’s a passable survival horror movie with the prerequisite amounts of gore, jump-out-of-your-seat frights and little twists that splatter any movie of this genre. The characters this time around are a pretty unmemorable bunch though; only the traumatised Sarah and Deputy Rios show any kind of distinguishing personality– everyone else is just served up as fodder for a series of gruesome deaths.
It’s a completely unnecessary sequel; very little can be added to the sheer claustrophobic terror which permeated the original. The Descent was terrifying even before the beasties showed up and it was a genuine surprise when they did. The Descent: Part 2 already takes their appearance for granted and although the creatures look a bit more convincing this time round, the fear of the unknown is partially lost.
Another major problem for fans of the first movie is the resolution of one of the best ambiguous endings ever in a horror movie, which at the time was refreshingly shocking and the cherry on the cake of a fantastic film. This new instalment effectively destroys that ending and instead inserts a plot line that is hard to justify: why would you take a mentally fragile amnesiac back to the very terrors she just faced?
That said, it’s a perfectly serviceable if rather pointless film; it does nothing to advance the genre and does nothing that the first film didn’t do better. You could certainly do a lot worse, but you’d be much better off popping down to Blockbuster and spending a couple of quid on the first one.
If twists are your thing, you might want to check out Chris Smith’s Triangle or if you want a master class in horror films, you owe it to yourself to check out Sam Raimi’s Drag Me To Hell.