A review of “The Descent” by Jeanne Aufmuth

 

Stars: ***

Rating: R for extremely intense violence, language and gore

Run Time: 1 hour, 39 minutes

 

 

A dire opening sequence grabs at the jugular and doesn’t let go until the last gory frame.

The Appalachian Mountains, Chattooga National Park. Six feisty females with a thirst for high-octane adventure tackling the unexplored caves of the Carolinas, ostensibly going where no woman has gone before.

The girls haul belays, ropes, maglites and personal baggage galore. Sarah (Shauna McDonald) is still recovering from the mental collapse brought on by the horrific deaths of her husband and child in a grisly car wreck. Girl warrior Juno (Natalie Mendoza) has a hidden agenda involving a fellow caver’s main squeeze.

In true spelunking style “Descent” is a claustrophobic journey to an underground hell; a visceral plunge into madness. Disorientation, hypothermia, panic attacks – check, check and check. When a nasty rockslide unexpectedly blocks their exit the group endeavors to find a way out, any way out.

Naturally the gals encounter the one thing they didn’t expect; predatory nocturnals with an unquenchable thirst for blood. It’s “Deliverance” on hormones. “Alien” down under. Subtle elements of feminism, adultery and lesbianism excavated for good measure.

Greed, betrayal, pluck, fear and buckets o’ blood; all juicy elements accounted for in this gutsy horror classic. Presented in pitch-black, staccato style that repels (can’t see!) and fascinates. Faint of heart beware!