I'm not a lesbian, but for ten minutes after seeing this well-crafted feminine horror thriller, I thought I was.
In the first half of The Descent, writer/director Neil Marshall threatens to drown you in a convoluted psychological tale of transcendence—but you'll be happy to know the film later incorporates practically any and all horrors that could be lurking in a cave hundreds of feet below the surface.
After suffering the loss of her husband and daughter, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) joins her totally hot and ripped girlfriends for an adventure in the great outdoors. A few landslides and protruding bone injuries later, the ladies find their descent is a total downer. Adding injury to injury, there are bat-like creatures trying to eat them (I know it sounds stupid). The race for a way out gets fierce as the fight for survival brings out the animal in them all.
Although The Descent has none of the appreciated character development or believability of last year's Wolf Creek, the prolonged refrain of any scares in the entire first half eventually pays off. The most crucial element to the knuckle-biting scares is the claustrophobic darkness that cloaks every scene after their descent—and Marshall does an impressive job in finding ways to light it. (Glistening muscles? That's a plus.) Despite the dark shroud, Marshall doesn't skimp out on the gore shots. Yet so effective is the sympathy for the characters' various predicaments, I found myself forgetting to breathe... for like... a minute.
The Descent could have unraveled into a pathetic feminine take on Lord of the Flies—with caveats alerting us to our obvious self-destructive human nature. But instead, it refuses to wander from the inherent purpose of horror: to thrill, terrify, relieve, and do it again (with very attractive actors).