After emerging from a complex cave system where the events of The Descent took place, a bloodied, bruised and traumatised Sarah Carter (Shauna MacDonald) is taken to hospital in a deep state of shock. Learning of Sarah’s reappearance, the coordinator of the rescue team searching for her and her missing friends, local Sheriff Redmond Vaines, rushes over to the hospital to question her. Insensitive to Sarah’s confused and distressed state, Vaines immediately considers her guilty of deception when she is unable to answer questions regarding the whereabouts of her friends. Concluding her memory need only be jogged in order to uncover the truth, he forces her to re-enter the caves with himself, his partner and the rescue team, oblivious to the horrors that await them.
Following straight on from the finale of its forbearer, The Descent: Part 2 leads us back down into the same dark and dangerous depths of the unknown that served it so well last time. The overwhelming success of the original film lay chiefly in the strength and development of its central characters, its taught, tense and unpredictable script and its ingenious exploitation of the inherent human fear of claustrophobia and loss of control.
May leave you feeling slightly disappointed after the raw excellence of the first.
This time, however, we accompany a different group of people who are enjoyable to watch, yet ultimately it’s the film’s undoing. Unlike the first set of victims, these are a selection of sorely underdeveloped individuals, barely unified from the outset, faced with a clunky script and a sequence of events that are all too predictable. Combine this with a first-time director who, albeit promising, lacks the same deft touch as his predecessor and you have a film, which tends to slip into unintentionally humorous territory at times. In particular, Harris’ lesser directorial know-how is most notable in the manner in which he stages the scares. Rather than risking the original and daring approach that Neil Marshall adopted by employing crevasse dim lighting and slow boil tension escalation throughout, he tends to fall back on genre convention, with quick cuts, quick frights and a stereotypical death rate.
When the terrible, gruesome things eventually happen, you always find yourself alert and transfixed but never distraught and afraid of the person behind sitting you. The Descent: Part 2 is an enjoyable frightfest that delivers a decent scare quota, but may leave you feeling slightly disappointed after the raw excellence of the first.