Wednesday, June 24, 2009

What the bloody hell?

Me too too.

No...this isn't a rant against the Academy Awards expanding from five nominations for best picture to ten. No, I figured I'd take this opportunity to rant about something else that may be news to some, but came as a surprise to me. In my usual random web searching I decided to see when The Descent, one of the best horror films ever made, was released, and to my shock and horror I found that there is a sequel set to be released in September. The above still is one of a handful of images that has been released in promotion for the new film. Ugh, I feel like screaming, too. Complaints after the jump...

Okay...did the filmmakers think that fans of the movie didn't see the original British version of the movie on DVD? A version, although ambiguous, made a great case for the fact that Sarah didn't make it out alive (The U.S. version ends with her "escape" whereas the U.K. version cuts back to reality and Sarah in the cave with no exit in sight). Also, on the IMDB page they show that the character of Juno is once again in the film. In case you forgot she was left to be eaten by the "crawlers" does this suggest then that the whole thing was in her head, that the allusion to the idea that the caves can play tricks on you is actually what happened? But then how do they explain the fact that they are bringing the "crawlers" back in the sequel, and supposedly they have evolved further and can fly now. Double ugh.

Neil Marshall's name is nowhere near this film, and I'm wondering why Shauna MacDonald agreed to do the film again. This will be a disaster if they just do a straight horror. And based on the plot synopsis, and the early images that were released, the film looks like it's just going to be a rehash of the first film: Sarah is rescued, she goes to a hospital, goes back down in the cave to save her friends who are apparently still alive. Again, this all suggests that the "crawlers" were indeed figments of their imaginations (especially Sarah who is a grieving mother and widow, and hints at the fact, early on in the film, that she may not be ready to move on with her life), but if that is the case, and the sequel is primarily psychological horror, then why the need to bring back the "crawlers"? And why make them so visible? They were more or less shadow creatures in the first film, and they came into the plot at a point where the characters would most likely have started hallucinating. The best part of the original is the reading that they all killed each other and imagined the "crawlers". The idea of a sequel with the same characters and the same scenario makes no sense.

I guess one could chalk this up to flattery through imitation, but man this is going to be rough to sit through with an open mind...because yes, I will see it, just like I do with any horror film or any sequel to a film I love. However, this has "bad idea" written all over it. The logic seems all over the place here as they seem to be disregarding any kind of psychological aspect that was clearly at the forefront of Marshall's film; and the fact that they're asking the audience to disregard the darker, nihilistic ending of the original is already putting the sequel in a pretty big hole. The power and poignancy of that final image of Sarah looking at her daughter, then as the camera pulls back they show Sarah looking at nothing (suggesting everything was in her head), is neutered now because of this unnecessary sequel.

And it's not like I'm anti-sequel, I just don't understand the logic in making a sequel to a movie where they totally disregard the elements of narrative that made the original so creepy. Perhaps this will be like what Aliens was to Alien, a pedal-to-the-floor action/horror hybrid that was all kinds of entertaining goodness...who knows, but it'll have to be pretty damn intense and impressive to make me forget about the fact that they're pretty much disregarding the end of the original film.

I don't know...maybe I'm too much of a fan of the original to think anything good can come out of the sequel, but it just seems altogether superfluous. Oh well...I guess more thoughts on this in September. This makes me want to find an old essay I wrote in college (published no less!) about the state of horror films...I guess we horror fans, and fans of the original film, play the waiting game.


  1. This will be bad (though I'm sure I'll see it, too), but I don't buy the interpretation of the first film that the crawlers were imaginary. Why would they all hallucinate the same thing? And why does the audience sometimes see the crawlers before the characters do?

  2. "and I'm wondering why Shauna MacDonald agreed to do the film again."

    Money would be my guess. I really don't hold out much hope for the sequel either. I love the original and you're right about how it really doesn't leave much open for a sequel. But, as you point out, if they do an ALIENS kind of deal then maybe it might be good. But the fact that Neil Marshall is not involved does not bode well.

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  4. Bill:

    It sucks that I am so predictible when it comes to wanting to see every horror movie, even if I know it's going to suck...but alas, I can't say no. I think the interpretation of the crawlers being imaginery is, I agree, somewhat of a stretch; but I think stritly from the perspective of Sarah, and all of the foreshadowing about how the caves play tricks on your senses, that it's definitely a reading worth looking into.

    I'd have to watch it again, but I always thought that the crawlers were first being seen by Sarah, and then once she falls and finds herself in their lair her freinds have to "deal" with the crawlers...I alwasy thought one could look at the entire film after that point as imaginary, sionce that's where Marshall decides to snap back to after she "escapes". Perhaps they will try to expalin this in the sequel...

    I don't think there is one defintive way to look at the movie, and like I said I would have to see it again (it's been almost a year now without seeing it!), but I thought I remember all of the bad stuff happening to everyone after they split up and Sarah and fallen down the hole and into the crawlers' lair.

    Regardless, I share your sentiments (obviously) about the sequel. Let me know if I'm off on my timeline of events from the movie in regards to Sarah and the others interactions with the crawlers. (I think I am now that I start thinking about some of the scenes of them trying to that idea could be way off. The ending is probably the only thing "imagined" in the film by Sarah...)

  5. J.D.

    Thanks for the comments. I really hope they go the Aliens route here...I just don't think I can buy another legit horror flick about the exact same thing. The premise is a head-scratcher, that's for sure...

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  7. I don't know about the timeline, but I'm pretty sure there are shots where the audience can see the crawlers, but not the characters. It's not that they appear in the film before anyone notices them, just that there are certain jump scares, and things like that, in the film that would make no sense if the creatures were meant to be imaginary. That's how I remember it, at least.

  8. Bill:

    Thanks for replying. I think I'm losing my mind here! You're right about the jump scares and about how the audience does see the crawlers before any of the characters do...and since we're not being told the story a la Identity there's no room for an unreliable narrator interpretation.

    The ending just threw my memory of the film for a loop, and then I got all up in arms about the sequel, and well...

    Anyway, I'm starting to remember the order of events the more I think about the movie. What's going to be really interesting (or probably more just laughable) is how they explain that the Juno character is still alive.

  9. Well, you don't actually SEE her die... I mean, of course it's still stupid, but that's their loophole. They'll just say she went apeshit on all the monsters.

    And don't feel bad about watching any horror movie that comes down the pike. All horror fans do that. Remember: you're not alone.

  10. I think I mentioned this in Greg or Ryan's comments section, but one of the most educational things about starting a blog and making acquaintances with fellow cinephiles is discovering the huge number of said cinephiles who are horror fans (some even geeks like me). You're right: I'm not alone, and I always thought I was! Haha.

  11. As someone who just saw the original about ninety days ago, I'm saddened to read this, Kevin. Darn you for spreading this bad news.

    I'd probably see this, though, just like I saw The Ring 2 and goodness knows how many other abysmal horror sequels.

  12. Alexander:

    You can be sure that there will be some more thoughts on this movie in September. And I apologize for being the one who breaks this bad news to you, hehe. Oh, and you are much more dedicated to the genre than I am if you sat through The Ring 2! Ha.

  13. I'd be for a sequel without the obviously dead humans from the first one. Oh well.

  14. Tommy:

    EXACTLY! That's why I don't get the way they are going about the sequel. If it revolved around a whole new group who heard about what went on in the cave, and it became kind of this urban legend about the crawlers...well you can fill in the rest. Again, if they were to do this like an Aliens then no complaints...however, the big problem arises in that they have Sarah back in the sequel...we saw Ripley survive in Alien, real cut and dry, but the end of The Descent is not so black and white. So...sequel, not a bad idea and like you I'm all for it...but the premise makes me shudder.

    Oh well.

    Thanks for stopping by! I loved your Open Water essay for Counting Down the Zeroes.