13 August 2006

The Descent is the first horror movie in years that I've bothered to see in the theater, partly because of what I persist in thinking is a great poster, but mostly because a horror flick that gets sensational reviews is a rare bird in itself. The first forty minutes are amazing, a clever exercise in everything that makes me uneasy, including enclosed spaces, heights, the dark, and strong, assertive women. Then, once the horror in the darkness reveals itself, the movie falls off a bit. I mean, there are some nerve-jangling moments, but it's tough to take the horror seriously once you've realized that the characters are being stalked by Flukeman.

Even after it stops being creepy and settles for shocks and gore, though, The Descent is great fun, and it does a nice job of toying with the usual horror movie conventions. My favorite moment, out of many, is when a character peeks down a corridor, sees that the route is clear, and goes to find her friend, with the camera following her to the right. When the camera follows her back to the corridor, of course, we're expecting something to have materialized out of the darkness. But, no, the corridor is still empty. Then the camera pans to the right again, and...

In any case, I had forgotten how much fun it can be when a packed theater just screams in unison, repeatedly, and when your non-date grabs your arm while whispering, "Alec, I'm scared. Is something bad going to happen?" Indeed, The Descent is a great date movie, with a double handful of classic arm-grabbing moments, including a corker at the very end, which demonstrates, once and for all, that there's nothing scarier than a hot Asian girl. And guess what? It even passes the Mo Movie Measure.

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