Six girls go exploring in the remote mountains of America a year after one of them suffered a family tragedy.

If you were pitched such a plot, you wouldn't think much of it, but Neil Marshall's The Descent is the best and most intense horror movie made in the last 10 years.

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His debut in 2001 was the so-so werewolf soldier movie Dog Soldiers, but this time he has come up with a film that is in the tradition of such masterpieces as The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Suspiria.

I don't want to say much about the specifics for fear of ruining it for you, but from the moment the girls find out what dwells in the caves the film is incredibly intense.

The devices that Marshall uses, such as the lead character Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) suffering hallucinations, which bring her dead daughter to life, and the fact that the Crawlers who live in the caves hear rather than see their prey, only ups the tension.

There are no post-modern winks to camera and no comedic interludes, which have destroyed horror cinema since Wes Cravens' Scream re-wrote the rulebook in the early Nineties. It is a straight ahead horror movie, the kind that isn't made anymore.

The special effects are top-notch. A bone which snaps in one of the girls' legs looks very realistic and the Crawlers could become horror icons following in the footprints of Freddy Krueger, or Jason Voorhees.

However, the one criticism that I have is not based on the film, it is based on the marketing. The posters and trailer give no feel of what the film is like.

Big congratulations to Neil Marshall for making a different kind of film. In his hands, the future of the British horror movie, and horror cinema in general, is in safe hands.

Reviewed on: 08 Jul 2005
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The Descent packshot
Six girls on a caving expedition find they are not alone in the dark.
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Read more The Descent reviews:

Kotleta ****1/2
Scott Macdonald ****1/2

Director: Neil Marshall

Writer: Neil Marshall

Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Jackson Mendoza, MyAnna Buring, Nora-Jane Noone, Molly Kayll, Alex Reid, Craig Conway, Saskia Mulder, Oliver Milburn, Stephen Lamb

Year: 2005

Runtime: 99 minutes

BBFC: 18 - Age Restricted

Country: UK


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If you like this, try:

Aliens
Dog Soldiers
Wolf Creek