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The Descent (2006)
Rated R

Starring: Shauna MacDonald, Natalie Mendoza, and Alex Reid

Rating:
****
out of
*****

One year after a car accident claimed the life of her husband and daughter, Sarah (Shauna MacDonald), packs up and goes on a spelunking expedition with five friends in the wilderness of North Carolina. The trip is meant to be as much of a bonding experience between the six women, who vacation together doing risky things like whitewater rafting and rock climbing, as it is part of the healing process for Sarah.

After a rockslide closes the exit of the cave they're exploring, Juno (Natalie Mendoza) reveals that the cave is not the easy, tourist-friendly cavern she told them they'd be visiting but rather a new system of caves that she intended to have them explore and then claim as their own discovery. As such, with the entrance closed off and no map of the cave, they're trapped underground. If that wasn't bad enough, they soon learn that they're not alone. Someone or something is down there with them and apparently has a taste for flesh.

Had I known that The Descent was written and directed by Neil Marshall, the man responsible for Dog Soldiers, I wouldn't have waited until it was released on DVD to see it. Dog Soldiers was a nifty B-movie horror tale with genre reference-laden dialogue that was a smart as it was funny.

The Descent eschews any comedic attributes and concentrates on creating a claustrophobic and desperate atmosphere in which to drop the female cave divers. Working with an obviously larger budget than he had on Dog Soldiers, Marshall, along with cinematographer Sam McCurdy, keeps piling on the tension and doesn't let up until the end.

Don't make the mistake of confusing this with 2005's The Cave, which was a complete waste of time. The Descent is an entertaining horror movie that proves that Neil Marshall is a force to be reckoned with in the genre.

Trivia: The cast members were taken to a rock-climbing center in Derbyshire to help prepare them for filming. (Source: The Internet Movie Database)

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