Descent, The (DVD)

The Descent: Original Unrated Cut DVD (click for larger image)Starring Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Jackson Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring

Directed by Neil Marshall

Distributed by Lionsgate

Remember Dog Soldiers? It fucking rocked! If you haven’t seen it, you should be ashamed of yourself. Feel free to leave this website in favor of something more your speed, like Disney.com. Despite having a fairly simple formula, Dog Soldiers was a slam dunk. There’s no disputing it — Commandos + Werewolves = A blood splattered good time. And boy, was it ever. Director Neil Marshall seemed to have come out of nowhere to give our genre a much needed kick in the ass. When first hearing about his next feature, The Descent, I was jazzed! Could he deliver again? You friggin’ betcha!

The Descent focuses on a group of thrill-seeking women. No longer content with male strippers and pony shows, our titular troupe have decided to go cave diving. Holy shit, am I glad that I am not an adrenaline junkie. This kind of thing never ends up pretty. After a while the chicas find themselves lost in a previously undiscovered cave system. Or so they thought. Much to their chagrin, the group soon realizes that their new-found land mass is inhabited. Just not by people. Out of nowhere the girls are ambushed by blind, flesh-hungry, naked ghouls (oh my!) who resemble the love children of a mating between Lord of the Rings‘ Golem and Nosferatu. The shit hits the fan in a hurry, and the race for survival is on!

The Descent: Original Unrated Cut DVD (click for larger image)Ignorance is bliss. The first time I watched this film, I had absolutely no idea what it was about. It could have gone anywhere. Were the girls crazy? Was the cave haunted? The last thing I expected were blind, flesh-hungry, naked ghouls (I like writing that). Once this realization of complete and total horror set in, my mind’s roller coaster teetered off of its highest peak. The Descent turned out to be a thrill-a-minute gore-soaked shriek-fest. Eureka, we’ve just struck genre gold, people! Then it happened. The film came here, and along with it came a trailer that actually showed the monsters. Talk about a buzz kill. Way to paint by numbers. Spoiler alert anyone? Jesus!

Not only was the movie ruined by its Stateside trailer, American audiences were also getting a different ending! This is getting ugly. More on that later. But despite the spoilers and trims, The Descent was still a pretty sick ride. Thankfully, Lionsgate has seen fit to deliver to us the film’s original cut via DVD.

Along with the original ending you’ll also find all of the movie’s gore intact. Marshall really knows how to paint the screen red. The Descent does this by the bucketful. Yet, even with the gallons of grue, the real star of this edition is still the conclusion. Truth be told, it’s bleak. Maybe too bleak for some. Kind of like the last scene in John Carpenter’s The Thing. Our hero is alive, but completely hopeless. Attention Hollywood — We need more endings like this. Things don’t always have to have a happy outcome complete with a pretty bow on top. We’re smarter than that. Stop sugar coating our horror please. Thanks.

The Descent: Original Unrated Cut DVD (click for larger image)So controversial was the decision to change the finale that there’s even a featurette included in the supplemental materials entitled DescENDING in which the reason for the tinkering is examined. To my shock, the ending was changed because the new shorter one tested better here in the States. What the hell is wrong with our society? Who is attending these test screenings, Mary friggin’ Poppins and Pipi god-damned Longstocking?! Must … control … anger…. *ahem* Anyway, things only look up from there in terms of extras as this edition is fucking packing. Also included are about twenty minutes worth of deleted and extended scenes (no extra gore in case you’re wondering, but we do get a bit more creature action), a fairly humorous blooper reel, storyboard-to-scene comparisons, a near hour-long making-of, and not one but two feature length commentaries. If you’re going to listen to just one, make sure it’s the director and cast track. You’re bound to have a good time with that one.

Dare I say it, this is one of the best DVD’s to hit home in quite some time. I’ve seen double-disc sets (*cough* The Others *cough*) that didn’t have a fraction of the supplemental materials that this baby is sporting. Still, even if it were bare bones, as long as it was this cut, I’d be quite satisfied. If you missed it in theatres, do yourselves a favor and click that little red link below which reads Get the DVD from EVILSHOP. You won’t regret it.

Swing on the spirals, down into the darkness. The Descent will leave you exhausted and screaming for more. Don’t forget the raincoats and mop. Shit gets really sticky.

Special Features
Director and crew audio commentary
Director and cast audio commentary
The Descent: Beneath-the-Scenes featurette
Deleted and extended scenes
Storyboard-to-scene comparisons
DescENDING featurette
Still gallery
Cast and crew biographies


4 1/2 out of 5

Special Features

4 out of 5

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Steve Barton

You're such an inspiration for the ways that I will never, ever choose to be.