Descent: Part 2, The (2009)

The Descent 2: Part 2 (2009)

Fear runs deep. Revenge runs deeper.

Sarah emerges from her subterranean hell in a deep trauma and with little recollection of what happened to her and her friends. The local sheriff suspects her of killing them underground and forces her to go back down into the cave system with a rescue team to locate her friends. The further the team goes into the caves, the more Sarah remembers and the more she realises that the team is in big trouble as the Crawlers are still lurking.

 

The Descent is one of those films that I wanted to like more than I actually did. It had been hyped up beyond all recognition and after watching it, I felt a little under whelmed. Don’t get me wrong, the film has its moments but there are a few too many cheap scares and it resorts to blood and action too much when the film had been building up the atmosphere nicely. It’s one of the better horror films of recent years but hardly sequel-worthy as there seemed to be no story left to tell. But if there’s one thing that annoys me worse than an unnecessary sequel, it’s an unnecessary sequel which is essentially a remake on a bigger budget (OK I’ll let Terminator 2: Judgment Day off). Step into the light The Descent: Part 2.

Depending on which version of The Descent you saw, you’ll have got a completely different ending. The UK and US releases had vastly different endings and the UK one is arguably the better of the two (or at least more satisfying for a jaded genre veteran like myself) but this sequel opts to go with the ‘happy’ ending approach to make life easier on the writers. I’ll at least give everyone involved a bit of credit in that you could easily watch the two films back-to-back and be hard-pressed to tell them apart. The look and feel of the film is the same. They bring back a few characters from the original back to give it continuity. And the Crawlers don’t seem to have too much in the way of alterations done to them.

Assuming you were familiar with what happened previously, the film gets down to the dirty as quickly as possible. We don’t get a lot of character exposition. All you need to know is that the sheriff is an asshole and does things his way, his deputy is a mother and desperate to see her kid again, there are a bunch of rescue workers (can’t even remember their names so that’s not a good sign) and the survivor from the original (who’s purpose in the film left me scratching my head as she adds little input to the proceedings and something that the other characters would easily have picked up on their own).

Needless to say that most of these characters become expendable in a variety of gory ways as the script opts to ditch the more psychological approach of the first one in favour of the traditional ‘sequels need more gore’ approach. The sequel doesn’t skimp on the red stuff either and the Crawlers attack early so you won’t be waiting too long. There’s plenty of gruesome goings on underground and the Crawlers get messy in their assaults. People are disembowelled, there’s throat slashings and even the humans manage to turn the tables on some of the Crawlers.

With the increased focus on gore, the film obviously suffers in other departments, most notably the atmosphere. The caves seem bigger than they were before and thus less claustrophobic. Part of the fear factor from the original was that you saw the characters squeezing through almost impossible gaps in the rocks to get to the next ledge and suffering from breathing problems and nerves whilst doing it. You really got the sense that they were trapped and their movements were limited to crawling forward or crawling backwards. Unfortunately the caves here are big enough to walk through and there’s only a few moments of characters squeezing through narrow gaps. The sheriff was a big guy but he seems to have little trouble in worming his way around these underground caverns.

As well as the setting, I lost count of the amount of times a character would look around into the darkness, the ominous music would suddenly stop and then something would pop out at them with an almighty crash on the sound system. It’s a cheap and telegraphed scare the first time and severely overused the fifth time. Speaking of the darkness, the original did such a good job in limiting the amount of light down in the cave system. After all, they’re so many feet underground so why is there so much natural light still penetrating? This one could have taken place in broad daylight in some scenes because it’s that bright underground.

There’s also a grossly unsatisfying ending which looks to have been tacked on by a ten year old – clearly a further sequel is in mind. But who will return from this one? A couple of actresses returned from the original, adding some decent continuity to the series. Shauna MacDonald and Natalie Mendoza slip back into their roles with ease, the former not really have much to say for the first half of the film due to her character being in shock. Out of the newcomers, it’s only Gavin O’Herlihy as the smug sheriff who makes any sort of impression with the rest simply being there to make up the numbers when the Crawlers start to attack.

 

The Descent: Part 2 isn’t a totally worthless sequel – it’s just pretty much an inferior remake of the original. It doesn’t really do any damage to the original, nor does it add anything to the story. Basically an excuse to feed a load more people to the Crawlers, The Descent: Part 2 is watchable and entertaining, just immediately forgettable.

 

 ★★★★★★☆☆☆☆ 

 

 

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