Aug 6, 2014

Review: The Descent: Part 2 (2009)

When do horror sequels ever work? They do at times, but recapturing the magic of a good horror movie is a guaranteed punch to the gut for any self-respecting horror movie fan. Why do they do it? Well, the obvious answer is money and The Descent did make a fair amount theatrically due to its low budget. It didn't look low budget but £3.5 million is about $6 million US. Factor in the money it probably made on DVD sales and airings on TV, it's a good bet to have been quite profitable.

Neil Marshall is long gone and I'm sure had no interest in directing a sequel to his hit of 2005. It ended just perfectly, so why bother ruining it? In comes Jon Harris who has never directed again since The Descent: Part 2, which is never a good sign. Harris has mostly worked as an editor and has been involved in some pretty big projects in his career like Snatch., 127 Hours, and more. So he must be at least semi-capable right?

This review contains spoilers about The Descent.

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Genre: adventure, horror, thriller
Directed by: Jon Harris
Produced by: Christian Colson, Ivana MacKinnon, Paul Smith, etc.
Written by: James McCarthy, J. Blakeson, James Watkins
Music by: David Julyan
Running time: 94 minutes
Production company: Celador Films
Distributed by: Pathé, Kadokawa Pictures, Lionsgate Home Entertainment, etc.
Country: United Kingdom
Language: English
Budget: $6,287,000
Box office: $13,759,535 (Worldwide)

IMDb entry
Rotten Tomatoes entry

Starring: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Mendoza, Krysten Cummings, Gavan O'Herlihy, Anna Skellern, Joshua Dallas, Douglas Hodge, Michael Reynolds, Doug Ballard, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring
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Synopsis


Two days after the events of The Descent, a search party is trying to find Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) and her friends. Unfortunately they're looking inside the wrong system of caves, so finding them is hopeless. Miraculously, Sarah is found elsewhere not too far away all covered in blood and seems to be suffering from some memory loss. Unable to explain what happened to the suspicious Sheriff Vaines (Gavan O'Herlihy) and sympathetic deputy Elen Rios (Krysten Cummings), Sarah is dragged along to the cave system she just escaped from in order to refresh her memory and find her friends.

Review


There's not really any explanation as to how Sarah got out of the cave from the original. Must be a contractual agreement to still be alive. It's a little silly and the fact that she's re-introduced via jump scare is more disappointing than anything else. (Spoiler) Give the viewer some compelling new characters instead of trying to bring back the same people who really should be dead if you ask me. Because oh yeah, somehow Juno (Natalie Mendoza) is still alive despite having been severely maimed in the first movie. She limps along comically while still wearing an extreme murderous expression for most of the movie. Her re-introduction is even sillier than Sarah's and it's just a death sentence to any sort of believability. (End spoilers)

Besides some very questionable character motives and judgement calls, the horror aspect of The Descent: Part 2 is not so much bad as it is dull and uninteresting. The Descent used a lot of jump scares but as I had said there's only two or three bad ones in my opinion. The jump scares in TD:P2 are cheap and expected. The crawlers which were creepy in the first movie have a different look now. They look like crawling orcs from Middle Earth and they seem to enjoy screaming/roaring with all their might whenever they can. They were also all different looking and far more calculating and intelligent. No they're just faceless freaks that pop their faces out of any kind of darkness. Whenever there's a struggle between human and crawler, the volume just goes way up while the crawler screams its head off. It gets old after the third or fourth time with many more encounters to follow. 

The great production of The Descent which had great lighting and sets is all gone. The budget has grown a little bit since 2005 but does it ever look cheaper. It's not horrible looking or anything but it's not quite there. Jon Harris also seems to enjoy employing more gore porn than what The Descent had. TD was gory like mad but it didn't use it as cheap thrill. Is it really necessary to show a drill going into a crawler's head up close? No, not really. It's a futile attempt at getting a reaction without any weight behind it. TD:P2 in essence feels slashier than its original and that's far from being a good quality.

The Descent: Part 2 is content with recycling old material and characters. The scares aren't scary and there's just too much going on that is so questionable from how things happened or why a character thinks that their decisions make the most sense. It's just a dumb horror movie I suppose but this is a sequel to a great horror movie. It doesn't have the right to be as disposable as it is. The Descent: Part 2 is not a complete disaster in the sense that it is perfectly watchable if just chock full of dimwitted characters and half-hearted attempts at being the movie The Descent was. 

Rating


5/10