Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Jackson Mendoza, Krysten Cummings, Joshua Dallas

Director: Jon Harris

Writer(s): J. Blakeson, James McCarthy, James Watkins

Cinematography: Sam McCurdy

Original Score: David Julyan

Running Time: 94 Mins.

I feel a double standard coming, yes, I will just have to spit it out, The Descent: Part 2 is at once essentially a retread/total continuation in story from the rather great original from director Neil Marshall, and also a (literally) bloody awful film in the same instant. Though it is what is what makes The Descent: Part two superficially different to its Part 1 as much as what is similar that makes the film quite as downright bad as it is.

Riding on the wave of success from Dog Soldiers (which itself had a sequel ready to shoot and fell through at the last-minute) director Neil marshall returned with The Descent to great acclaim whereby he was deemed the great white hope of the British horror scene. The Descent was a nasty little horror film that played on some of our most primal fears, claustrophobia, the dark, and those oh so creepy of creatures residing in such places, building the tension on a knife-edge it had the kind of bleak ending only us Brits seem capable of carrying off, meaning in America, low and behold, a nice happy-ish ending was tacked on, meaning much of the ambiguity set-up with the main characters hallucinogenic personality was lost. In effect The Descent was just another slasher film to those goddamn Yanks!

Fast forward 4 years and shock horror we get not an out and out cash cow sequel, but more a continuation (hence the Part 2), picking up from the ending of the American version, (this, to me, is a good thing as it means I can re watch the original and not have it tarnished by a duff cheesy ending and anything else that follows!) So picking up where Marshall wisely left off (though he inexplicably retains an executive producer credit) is editor Jon Harris, Harris’ direction itself is capable enough and the only area the film gains any respect from me, he builds tension without totally ripping Marshall off, however it is all the elements surrounding this that I take great issue with.

To list them would take all day but in a nutshell Harris et al have taken a genuinely scary premise and turned it into what is effectively the Hollywood remake minus the scares. This means all sense of realistic characterisation is lost, everyone becomes a cardboard cut-out with none of the eventual victims exhibiting even a modicum of sympathy, occasionally this works with the lack of star names meaning you don’t know who will live or die, but in the loose story provided and lack of character you will be too bored to wonder who or indeed how the next person will die.

Oh, the deaths, where the first film exhibited something brutal but restrained but this time we have all out pantomime gore, with bodily fluids, blood and poo (yes poo) splashed, squirted and dripped all over the place, it’s as bad as it sounds, and worse. There is truth to be found in the suggestion that delving into the origins of the unknown somewhat detract from the scares but at least if they had attempted that here the plot would have felt a touch deeper, as it is all we discover is … well… nothing!

Not a thing is new, so yes just like the first film, minus the scares (the only scary moment comes as a scene from the original is shown via a video camera!), a totally implausible plot kick-start (let’s take the amnesic survivor back down to the uncharted cave system!) and dire characters left me reeling as the final scene seems to exist simply for the setup of the inevitable  The Descent: Part 3, at least it can’t be much worse than its predecessor!

VERDICT

The Descent: Part 2 is notable only for taking one of the last decades creepiest and most claustrophobic films and essentially remaking it, albeit terribly! Just go and re-watch the original UK version…and forget this ever happened!

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