Tuesday, November 3, 2009

Horrible Horror

I wish I cared about The Descent.  I didn't.

I couldn't tell any of the characters apart.  Even the two leads were hard to tell apart, but it didn't really matter until the final moments.  I didn't care.

The creatures weren't scary.  I'm not sure why except that the girls start acting like action heroes.  Honestly, I don't think they'd be able to fight off a pack of wild dogs.  I'm not sure how they fend off these evolutionary perfect underground killing machines.

Besides finding fault in the ease of killing these things that should have all of the natural advantages, I was disgusted by the editing.  I've been reading about Neo-realism and Bazin's notion of "image facts" so maybe I set myself up to hate this film.  Maybe it's just a personal preference, but I can't stand the type of frenetic editing that is showcased here during the fight sequences.  There's no room for the truth of an image to impress itself on us.  Most Westerns from 60-70 years ago intuitively understood this.  We might be able to tell a staged punch, but we always got the idea that two men were really struggling with one another.  Now real action is hard to come by.  I was left with a feeling of the falsity of it all and was quite conscious of the manipulation trying to be foisted on me.  The music went along with this manipulation and I found myself hating the music as well.  

Bringing things full circle in this mini-marathon, I have to compare the film to Dawn of the Dead.  Dawn takes its time and gives us characters to care about.  Also, the make-up may be dated, but we see clearly the horror of the zombies waiting to attack.  I obviously need to see more Romero films, but on the strength of this one, I consider him a master.  At the very least, he reigns as king of this mini-marathon.  Neil Marshall is just an upstart wanna-be.

Here's my final ranking of the five films.
Rated on the Netflix scale 1-hated it to 5-loved it

1) Dawn of the Dead - 5 (fell in love)
2) Videodrome - 4 (reluctantly really liked it)
3) Rosemary's Baby - 3 (liked it)
4) The Thing - 3 (liked it) 
5) The Descent - 2 (didn't like it)

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