The Decent (2005): Still a Tight Fit

The Descent (2005): Still a Tight Fit

The Descent, written and directed by the brilliant Neil Marshall, was a revelation in 2005. It is begins with a shock to the system, or two, and rapidly turns into an exercise in claustrophobia. Watching it again tonight on DVD, I found it to still be a tight fit. One that manages to leave me feeling a tad panicky and breathless, despite having watched it numerous times over the years.

My daughter and I watched it initially and both of us were blown away by the mood and the many changes that Marshall manages to manufacture in the film. In terms of unique and “outside the box” horror, this talented maestro knocks it out of the metaphorical park. (The original viewing of this horror film was back in approximately 2007.)

(I will admit to being an unabashed fanboy of Marshall. This is, after all, the same man who brought us the wonderfully weird and and delightful Dog Soldiers, as well as my “go-to” sci-fi/thriller fix, Doomsday.)

Back to The Descent:  The ladies are an interesting bunch with Juno; (Natalie Mendoza) the one who seems to be guaranteed to be the “final girl,” Sarah; (Shauna Macdonald) whose mind is a myriad of mixed emotions and Beth; (Alex Reid) the observer who sets a certain chain of events in motion, heading up this ensemble effort. The dynamic between these three and its messy interlude, runs alongside the main plot, after it makes its appearance, and shows the true depth of this movie’s story.

Marshall allows us an “out,” if you will, early on in the film. The MyAnna Buring character talks of the dangers of Spelunking.  She mentions hallucinations, dehydration, and disorientation as just a few of the long list of problems that exploring deep under the earth can cause.  By the film’s end, it is all too easy to contemplate a scenario where Sarah has dreamed the whole thing up.

Juno’s affair with Sarah’s late husband, the blind and cannibalistic cave creatures, and the end battle between Juno and Sarah could all be a construct of a woman who still needs medication after the horrific death of her husband and child. Medication that she forgets to bring into the cave with her. Sarah does, after all, get stuck in that narrow and somewhat heart stopping passage between caves. Is it such a stretch to imagine that the poor woman remained trapped there and had an intense Bardo moment?

It is interesting to note that the entire film leaves one with a tight feeling in the chest, a certain breathlessness and a slight sense of panic. After that first “jump scare” (I still cannot follow a vehicle with a load of copper, or any type of, pipes in the back without an uneasy feeling that borders on paranoia.) to the final shot of Sarah’s apparent demise, the ride is incredibly tortuous and stressful. I am not, as a rule, claustrophobic. But Marshall’s offering, from start to finish, certainly puts me in that place.

Despite being over 15 years old, The Descent still manages to entertain and put the audience in a very uncomfortable place. It is available to watch, for free, on IMDB TV. If you have not had the opportunity to watch this, or for that matter, the other aforementioned Marshall films, I would highly recommend checking it/them out.

Mad Max: Fury Road Second Trailer with Battle Royale Music Equals Awesome

Mad Max: Fury Road Second Trailer with Battle Royale Music Equals Awesome

The 1979 cult classic Mad Max is one of those films, that despite the filmmakers deciding to dub Mel Gibson’s voice in U.S. theatres, falls into that sacred category of “should never be remade,” but the release of the second Fury Road trailer complete with the 2000 Battle Royale film music equals some kind of awesome. It also makes the argument of not remaking the film a moot point. When a trailer looks and sounds this great, it is almost fait accompli that the film is going to rock socks at the cinema.

World Gone Wild by David J Moore A to Z of Post Apocalyptic Films

World Gone Wild by David J Moore A to Z of Post Apocalyptic Films

World Gone Wild by David J. Moore is an A to Z collection of post apocalyptic films from a man who clearly loves the genre. Subtitled A Survivor’s Guide to Post Apocalyptic Movies this book is a must for fans of these type of films, or even television shows. In his 12 page introduction Moore explains what got him hooked on the genre, essentially the same things that get most people hooked. The main difference is that the writer tracked down every example of “end of the world as we know it” films he could find. The search also included small screen versions of tales about after the apocalypse and Moore has included them all.

Gotham: Sean Pertwee on the Small Screen and Not Dying?

Gotham: Sean Pertwee on the Small Screen and Not Dying?

Perhaps the most exciting thing about the premiere of FOX’s Gotham tonight is not the story of a “baby” Batman’s beginnings, along with a slew of Gotham City baddies and their origins but the inclusion of Brit actor Sean Pertwee on the small screen and not dying. Not dying? How can that be? The 50 year-old actor has made a career of starring in horror films and having his characters slain in some pretty gruesome and imaginative ways.

Devil’s Playground (2010): Zombies, Zombies Everywhere…

The Devil's Playground (2010 film)
The Devil’s Playground (2010 film) (Photo credit: Wikipedia)

Devil’s Playground  is director Mark McQueen‘s first venture into the feature film arena. Better known as the director of the “reality” television series The Only Way Is EssexMcQueen hasn’t done too badly in his maiden voyage.

Unfortunately the film feels an awful lot like the 2008 Brit-flick Doomsday but without the added benefit of director Neil Marshall or Rhona Mitra or Bob Hoskins. Playground does use a lot of the same actors though.

Sean Pertwee (and what would a low budget British horror film be without him), MyAnna Buring (who also was immune to the ‘virus’ that plaqued, sorry, England in Doomsday), and Craig Conway (who played MyAnna’s brother in Doomsday).

So okay we do have Colin Salmon (who has done the whole zombie bit before in Resident Evil 2002) and Danny Dyer (who is also an alumni of British horror because he played the drugged out prat in 2006’s Severance and he also did the 2009 horror film Doghouse), but, to the best of my knowledge Craig Fairbrass has never been in an apocalyptic zombie film before.

Interestingly enough the ruggedly good looking Fairbass got his start working on an English television show called London’s Burning. He went to America to work and Hollywood’s never really known what to do with him.

The basic plot of Devil’s Playground is not blazingly original. A chemical/pharmaceutical company is doing tests on people using an ‘enhancement’ drug that, apart from one test subject (Buring), is turning the participants into adrenalin fuelled scary zombies.

Craig Fairbrass plays Cole an armed policeman who is feeling a huge amount of guilt over the things he has had to do in the recent past.  His murdering a couple in their bed, with the woman being heavily pregnant, plays over and over in guilt ridden flashbacks.

Fairbass gets infected at the very beginning of the film while fighting zombies. He manges to get three injections that will hopefully stave off the virus long enough for him to find the ‘immune’ and also heavily pregnant Angela Mills (Buring).

Unfortunately, the film lacks a little in the believability department when everyone apart from Cole only have to get scratched by one of the infected zombies to be overcome by the virus. Those injections must be really good if not completely pain-free since he regularly doubles over in pain.

The other believability problem is the, unintentionally, funny instant Parkouring ability of almost every zombie. The infected folks can just naturally jump through open car windows and scale buildings like Parkour professionals. And while that is actually quite funny it speaks more of a limited stunt team who are using the same few stuntmen over and over.

The film is entertaining despite it’s similarity to many other apocalyptic zombie films already on the market. Craig Fairbrass alone  is worth the price of a DVD rental to watch this film.

Well that and seeing Sean Pertwee, sporting a huge moustache, run across a dock and steal the river police’s powerboat and speed off  into the distance.

I don’t know if he was escaping the approaching zombies or trying to get the hell out of the film.

A rating of one leisurely bag of popcorn, nothing special but still entertaining.