Location: Los Angeles, California

Saturday, August 12, 2006

The Descent

The two hardest film genres to pull off are comedy and horror. The latter has suffered in recent years due to an overflow of PG-13 "spooky" films, usually remakes of Japanese hits, aimed solely at bringing in teenage girls (and their male protectors).

Yet, these films usually disobey the golden rule of the horror genre - reveal your monstrosities slowly. "Alien," for example, is an exemplary example of how to do horror; Ridley Scott gave us only glimpses of his creature, thus allowing the audience the chance to imagine something far worse than what the puppet/creature-suit turned out to be. Most modern horror films start killing off characters minutes into the movie, and what we end up with is a CGI freak fest devoid of any suspense or chilling atmosphere.

Not so with "The Descent," the best horror film I've seen since, gosh, a long time. I will not reveal if there are or are not creatures in the film; that's beside the point. The point is that "The Descent" gradually builds an atmosphere of claustrophobia, paranoia, and undeniable doom. It works on both a physical and psychological level, and it gives us characters that actually surprise us.

And thus, it comes as no surprise that "The Descent" is not an American film. Leave it to foreigners - in this case, the British - to remind Hollywood how horror films are supposed to be made.


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