Unrated - Cinema of the Extreme


A traumatized Sarah Carter (Shauna Macdonald) emerges from the Appalachian cave system alone, having survived her encounter with the Crawlers following an underground expedition that left her five friends dead or trapped underground. A motorist, Ed Oswald(Michael J. Reynolds), is listening to a news report concerning the search for the women when he swerves to avoid a deer, at which point the bloodied form of Sarah lunges towards his car.

Whilst recovering from her ordeal at a local hospital she is interviewed by Sherrif Redmond Vaines (Gavan O’Herlihy) who convinced she knows more than she’s revealing, insists on her accompanying the rescue team, in an attempt to locate the missing women.

The rescue team, consisting of Sherrif Deputy Elen Rios (Krysten Cummings), Dan Shepherd (Douglas Hodge), Greg (Joshua Dallas), Cath (Anna Skellern) and Sherrif Vaines are reluctantly accompanied by Sarah as they descend into the mines and make their way through the tunnels. Sarah manages to escape by head-butting Dan and flees into the darkened caves. Dan to fires a warning gunshot which causes a rockfall separating the team from Cath who is trapped by a boulder choke. As the party reluctantly leave Cath stranded in order to find another way out of the tunnels in order to arrange for more help, Greg finds a camcorder which displays footage of the missing team playing around at their base camp, before descending into the caverns, and their first encounter with a Crawler.

Suddenly the rescue party are attacked and the group are sent scattering into the dark. Sarah leaps out of the shadows and places a hand over Rios’ mouth to stop her from screaming as the pair watch Dan get torn apart. As the survivors attempt to make their way to the surface, Sarah’s past knowledge of the cave system and the Crawlers will prove vital if anyone is to survive.

Jon Harris does his best with a rather muddled script that fails to develop the intruiging threads concerning the psychological and, possible biological relationship that Sarah shares with the Crawlers, that was hinted at in the original. The plotline is minimal and hindered by several contrived and unconvincing scenarios; no police officer in their right mind would insist on dragging an injured and obviously traumatized victim back to the location of her ordeal so soon after events, no matter how important she was to the mission, and only a fool would fire a gun off in caverns known for their rockfalls.

Neil Marshall’s THE DESCENT drew strength from the claustrophobia and mystery surrounding the nature of the horrors that lurked underground for the original party, with this sequel the dangers are chartered territory (especially for those who have seen the original) and so its horrors are greatly diminished. To his credit, Harris does include a number of entertaining cliff-hangers (quite literally) and attempts to up the scare quota with some impressive throat rippings courtesy of Johnny Rafique, and improved monster designs by Paul Hyett that Harris felt would make "the Crawlers more viciously feral, inbred, scarred and deformed". This involves his creatures developing six rows of razored teeth, and a camouflaging ability that whilst providing additional scares for the film characters and audience makes no sense from an evolutionary sense since the creatures inhabit a pitch-black environment. Further gross imagery includes a charnel house of victim bones, a live rat emerging from the mouth of a corpse, and a defecation pit.

The cast that includes Natalie Mendoza reprising her role from THE DESCENT as the other survivor of the original expedition are one again competent, O’Herily is particularly good in his portrayal of the overbearing and somewhat incompetent Sherrif. And whilst, THE DESCENT: PART 2 fails to live up to expectation, it’s worth catching, if only for its nightmarish imagery. I might add that the ending paves way for yet another sequel, one which I hope brings more to the table than just another descent in the dark.

Carl T. Ford

 

Directed by Jon Harris

English Language / UK / 2009 / 93 minutes / Colour / Rated 18

A Celador Films Production

Released in the UK 2 December 2009

THE DESCENT: PART 2

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