Director Neil Marshall’s 2005 horror film, The Descent, was one of my favorite horror films of that year. The little film about a group of female adrenaline junkies that go spelunking in an uncharted cave system did a terrifyingly good job at conveying tension from the sense of claustrophobia that the characters were in and then shifting focus completely to take advantage of the films primary antagonists, the feral clan of cannibals living in the cave system. It was a thrilling ride but after seeing the ending to The Descent I was pretty certain that we had seen the last of the cast of characters involved in that story.
Yet here we are nearly five years later and The Descent: Part 2, which released in the US direct to DVD, starts off directly where the first one let off. Shauna Macdonald is back as Sarah, the sole survivor to exit the cave system and escape the feral beasts. She however does not remember anything about her ordeal and against everyone’s better judgment, the local sheriff orders her to accompany the rescue team to find her missing friends.
Unlike its predecessor, The Descent: Part 2 does not develop the same tension and as such creates a far less scary film. The film looks and sounds the part but it just does not feel the part. Some of that is because the viewer ultimately knows what awaits the rescue team and some of it is because the caves the rescue team are exploring do not feel quite as claustrophobic as the originals. To mix things up a bit, Sarah throws the viewers a curve ball shortly after they find the body of one of her friends. Suspicion turns to Sarah as a murderer but she knows the truth and attempts to escape into the darkness.
Sarah’s escape does its job of splitting up the rescue party and it is not long after that the dwellers of the cave system come looking for fresh food. The kills are bloody and gruesome, although the blood effects look somewhat low budget, and the film seems to finally be gathering its bearings to turn the corner to deliver a thrilling final act.
Sadly it never gets there, instead the film throws another curve ball that relates back to the original film that makes little to no sense and then things just sort of go on a downward spiral, devolving into standard horror movie cliches and gore for the sake of gore. As a horror fan I had fun with it though, it never really reached the level of camp many horror films and it remains at the least, entertaining, throughout. However the ending is terrible and it nearly destroys any goodwill the film had fostered, it attempts to evoke an emotional response from the viewer only to promptly smash it under a boot heel.
The Descent: Part 2 does nothing to help push the horror genre forward but aside from its overuse of genre cliches and a demoralizing ending the film is actually quite a fun time. If you enjoyed the original, there is nothing wrong with giving Part 2 a ride, just keep in mind it is nowhere near as good.
3 out of 5