The Descent 2 (2009)
Directed by Jon Harris
When you make a sequel to a movie I declared as the best horror movie of 2006, I can only sigh repeatedly as I know it won't live up to expectations. So as I watched Descent 2, I knew I'd be scratching my head, WTF-ing and getting irritated by all the shot by shot suspenseful scenes being mimicked by the sequel.
And yup I did all those things.
What I didn't realize is how they'd strip the aura of the original frame by frame. And this is where I take this review. The Descent 2 is not terrible nor is it breaking into the sequel Hall of Fame. It's an average flick that almost could be called a remake of the original. The new crew took Neil Marshall's original, bloodied it up with some severe neck and head trauma and put in a few slick kills.
But how it contradicts the original and has absurd plot points can't be ignored. So what you end up with is half a Descent. And you have me breaking this down with serious WTF-ness. The following review HAS LOTS AND LOTS OF SPOILERS. If you haven't seen the original or Part 2, it be best you stop reading....well NOW.
Distraught, confused, and half-wild with fear, Sarah Carter emerges alone from the Appalachian cave system where she encountered unspeakable terrors. Unable to plausibly explain to the authorities what happened - or why she's covered in her friends' blood - Sarah is forced back to the subterranean depths to help locate her five missing companions.
As the rescue party drives deeper into uncharted caverns, nightmarish visions of the recent past begin to haunt Sarah and she starts to realize the full horror and futility of the mission. Subjected to the suspicion and mistrust of the group and confronted once more by the inbred, feral and savagely ruthless Crawlers, Sarah must draw on all her inner reserves of strength and courage in a desperate final struggle for deliverance and redemption
Hey jaded viewers. Well I'm glad I can write a spoiler filled review. Now I don't have to leave out anything that would have ruined the film. OK so I'm gonna break this down with "coolness of the original" DESTROYED by the sequel. I'm also going to add what I liked in Part 2. That's fair right?
1.) The original casts are all women spelunkers
The original says: Do you know how cool this concept is? It broke down the tradition of male domination. in a horror film. To see women all cast was refreshing and they were not too bad to look at either.
The sequel says: Well lets put in some guys to kill. But in the end the women will rule the caves. Part 2 has alpha male testosterone going all wonky and the women have to show what's what. The cast is diverse this time, Brits, an African American woman and your run of the mill Americans. Ugh. Damn men seem to fuck up everything don't they with their bravado and their guns and their ill timed sexual advances. Thank goodness the women all prevail in the end.
2.) Claustrophobia and complete darkness makes everything suspenseful
The original says: Spelunking is taken to the extreme as tight spaces, cave ins and complete darkness get you scared shitless. Add in night vision via a camera and you don't know what to expect.
The sequel says: Yup those things all worked so we're going to do it all over again. More tight spaces, more cave ins and more night vision. They even revisit the same places as the original. Quick glimpses of the crawlers, more crawling holes and making daring escapes and more caverns with water that have to be navigated. I did like the gratuitous jumping on the hanging dead body from Part 1. That was kinda cool.
The thing is we've seen it all before. Sure a sequel is suppose to rehash the original but like seeing a movie with a twist ending, watching the same movie again doesn't have the same effect. The originals magic of cave exploring is a one time thing. It loses its eeriness and suspense the 2nd time around. This results in a semi-FAIL from the sequel.
3.) The Crawlers aren't intimidating anymore
The original says: Seeing the crawlers for the first time was a smash into your noggin. Creatures who lived in caves, lacked eyesight and only could sense you via sound. Plus they were wicked blood thirsty carnivores.
The sequel says: Gone are the chase scenes where our creepy crawlies stalk our lovelies. Now we got pure set ups where our crew gets taken out one by one. They're still hungry but was it me or did the Crawlers get lots of screen time in this one? Golden rule says less screen time for our evil the better the movie. Seeing them repeatedly and in a pack ups the YIKES! factor but it loses their mythic out of nowhere quality. Plus just a few hacks into the head by some rock climbing equipment or a rock smashing easily kills em.
Hell I think I could take on a pack of em by myself.
4.) What's the deal with Sarah?
The original says: The original had 3 endings. So in the US ending, Sarah was the lone survivor. The UK ending has Sarah dying. So this sequel obviously goes by the US ending. But lets get to Sarah and why we all liked her. Sarah's daughter is referenced as is her tension with Juno because Juno had an affair with her husband. Both are key points to her character and why what she does in the movie is so justified. She cares for her friends and her pick axing Juno makes it more "Yeah bitch Don't mess with me!" fitting.
The sequel says: First, the premise that they force Sarah who is utterly traumatized by the whole experience to go back into the caves to find her friends is utterly preposterous. Also, to take a crew deep into a cave system that's unexplored is just plain stupid. I knew creepy old timer 49-er guy was shady to begin with. Seriously, the logic here is severely bastardized. I can't tell you how completely speechless I was as I watched this.
As for Sarah, all her issues are completely ignored. There's a vague reference to her daughter, she explains how Juno "died" and the key chain makes a reappearance. She's now a pro with the caves and crawlers. She barely speaks but shows the same "save a life" attitude as she guides our potential lone survivor to safety.
I'll admit, the fact that the puddled water we see in the original that was filled with blood is now replaced with crawler feces gave me a LOL.
And then the WTF Moment happens....
5.) Holy hamburger phone! Juno is alive!!!
The original says: Last we saw Juno she got pick ax-ed by Sarah and was left for dead as the crawlers approached. She got what she deserved for abandoning her friends and cheating with Sarah's husband.
The sequel says: We all knew she would return in the sequel as she was one of the best characters in the original. I knew she survived once Natalie Mendoza was cast. But this seriously fucks up the original in a mega way. The girl we wanted to die is alive and she's now freakin an expert crawler assassin.
She has a brief catfight with Sarah which is to be expected. But that isn't really developed. They should have introduced Juno earlier to create Sarah vs Juno uneasiness. Bad sequel. In the end, Juno has a change of heart as she saves Sarah as she's about to be pulled down the abyss handcuffed to stupid sheriff guy.
They actually redeem Juno! Well how about that. Her death is actually something you could see coming a mile away (hmm maybe she's still alive) and we're now suppose to feel empathy for her. This is quite comparable to Darth Vader. Vader is mega evil #1 and in the last 3 minutes of Jedi, we're suppose to care he did the right thing? Fuck that.
6.) Arterial Spraying is magically delicious
The original says: A few choice scenes of gore and splatter. Nothing I'm writing Bloody Disgusting about.
The sequel says: Amped up Gore-ipedia in this one. Ripped necks with gushing blood, Feces cesspool bath, picks to the heads, rats in dead bodies, a sliced off hand via rock pick and others. Wow, way to amp up the splatter guys.
7.) That ending sucked
The original says: Depending on the ending you watched, you either got a happy generic one, a sad one or a WTF one.
The sequel says: Sarah and Juno: friends til the end I guess. That was illogical don't you think? Also, creepy old coal miner guy fucking up the black woman for the crawlers. That made no fuckin sense.
The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis
It's a mix bag for me for The Descent 2. I'm giving it 2 spinkicks. It's not horribly bad and it's not awesomely good. It's the same ole crawler poop mixed in with awesome kills, nothing more and nothing less. I loved seeing my girl Juno again but this was a pseudo remake if there ever was one.
Check out the trailer below.