October 16, 2010

The Descent: Part 2 (2009)

(AKA "The De2cent")

"Distraught, confused, and half-wild with fear, Sarah Carter emerges alone from the Appalachian cave system where she encountered unspeakable terrors. Unable to plausibly explain to the authorities what happened - or why she's covered in her friends' blood - Sarah is forced back to the subterranean depths to help locate her five missing companions..."

Well, what can I say? I hated the first film and, with this being a sequel, I didn't expect much of "The De2cent" at all. It's just the same stuff all over again yet even weaker as if that was even possible. I'm glad that I only rented this one through Netflix and didn't buy it.

I know I'm going to get branded as a "Negative Nancy" over my recent batch of reviews even though it's not as if I hate everything but, honestly, this was truly awful. At least there was some sense of reason, slim as it was, to the first film but nothing in the sequel made any sense. Why was Sarah (yes, I got her name now!) taken back into the caverns which she escaped from? Don't you think she would have spent a considerable time recovering in hospital and suffered from post traumatic stress disorder for the rest of her life if any of this was real? And why was this all based on the American theatrical ending rather than the British version where she never escaped the caverns in the first place? I was expecting some big twist like another dream sequence at the end to finally wrap this up. Maybe having Sarah in an asylum like the girl from "High Tension" or even taking her right back to the white water rafting accident and having her wake up from being knocked out to discover that everything was just a nightmare would have worked. I think I need to become a screenwriter as clearly nobody involved in this shoddy production had a clue.

As much as I really want to do nothing but tear this film apart for all its plotholes, feeble dialogue, lack of atmosphere, credible sympathetic characters or pathetically unrealistic special effects, I'll leave those things to anybody who even cares. What disturbed me the most about "The De2cent" was the reappearance of the annoying Juno character (not Ellen Page) who miraculously survived being killed by hordes of CHUDs in the first film to become a completely different kind of badass character altogether. You can imagine the obvious expletives which I let fly at the TV screen at that point but suffice it to say that the acronym "WTF" will do. I'm over it now because at least she was the best looking female in either film even if she never delivered the goods in the way I would have preferred.

As a Classically trained movie reviewer, I'm always looking for consistent characterisation, unity of time and place, and any kind of catharsis. "The De2cent" had even less of these things than "The Descent"! If you try and watch both films back to back as I did then everything falls apart completely. "The De2cent" is supposed to be a continuation rather than a sequel but it disregarded so much of the first part that it felt like a vastly inferior remake. Even with Sarah suffering from amnesia her actions made no sense whatsoever and, as much as I paid attention, nor did anyone else's. For instance, why could three grown women not manage to pull the Colonel Sanders lookalike back out of the hole instead of chopping his finger lickin' hand off? Was it just to add some more unrealistic gore to an already totally implausible story? Funny coloured blood and multiple hacks aside, I did somewhat enjoy that moment though.

There were some things that I liked about "The De2cent" but they were very few and far between. The jump scares varied from irritating to effective but the gory set pieces seemed to work. It was just a pity that the rest of this story was wrapped around them. I'm probably a complete contrarian because I preferred the abundance of light in the new cavern set to the darkness of the old one. It's nice to be able to see what's going on and I hate watching anything that leaves 90% of my TV screen completely black. The supposed claustrophobia which lots of people felt watching the original didn't work for me anyway especially as I watch everything on a massive widescreen LCD TV in the first place.

One thing that's puzzled me about the CHUDs (or "crawlers" as they are called in the credits) is how, by relying on all their senses other than vision, they can tell the difference between themselves, noises made by each other, and anything else which screams laziness on the part of the writers. I remember from the first film how one of them had his hand right on the head of one of the girls and didn't notice yet all anyone has to do is make a small noise and dozens of CHUDs appear. Why don't the CHUDs attack each other if they are so stupid? More importantly, why do I even care? Perhaps it's because they have no real backstory. Since I don't believe in evolution, I'm tempted to think that they are creations of some sort and, furthermore, some kind of scientific creation which will have more light shed on it in the next sequel. Oh, yes, there will be a "Part 3". According to the forum on the ultra-reliable IMDb, it's already been filmed.

If "The Descent" doesn't actually turn into a trilogy then the ending of "Part 2" made absolutely no sense at all especially if you try and tie it up with its own beginning. Of course it could just be completely ignored like they used to do with the cliffhangers of RKO serial plays back in the 1930s especially as that's exactly what happened with this sequel. I don't really care one way or another. If I had my "drothers" as they say in New York, then this series would end right here but I fear the worst is yet to come.

Anyway, I've spent far more time on writing about this drivel than I wanted to and I need to get back to watching some decent stuff again. Even though my own Halloween viewing is going to consist of watching "Bring It On", "Clueless" and "Legally Blonde" while I take a break from watching nothing but horror movies for the rest of the year, there are still two weeks left for me to try to find enough good horror films to write about to keep my new October readers happy. Somehow I expect to be pretty quiet on here until "Saw VII".

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