So, I just watched- and pretty much tweeted- The Descent, a horror film released in 2005 that I didn't see because I didn't think it looked interesting. Well, BOY-HOWDY, was I WRONG.
I have a crush on Natalie Jackson Mendoza.
A zillion reviews exist, and apparently, after reading the wiki, the version I just saw (on SciFi) was so badly cut up that I missed a few very important thematic character moments, and that pisses me the eff off, but whatever- so I'll keep this brief. The basic gist is PURE SHEER AWESOME and I will tell you why.
All female cast. It's just as gory as any other recent horror release. It's as plausible. It's intelligently written, the characters are as varied, there are no token characters. It's scary as hell.
But you're not bogged down by the ridiculous, oppressive, nauseating sexual aspect that pretty much every gore flick feels the need to perpetuate. Take a look at the single most successful horror films of recent years: The Saw movies. Almost wholly devoid of sex. I have never been a fan of slasher movies, but I can, do, and always have appreciated good horror. Good horror is extremely rare, these days. The only thing that tends to be horrifying about them is the way they use women, not as characters, but as fetishized objects not just for male characters (who tend to be equally as disposable) but also for whatever mutant creature or murderous fiend is the antagonist of the picture. And to be honest, I'm fucking sick of it.
I will not watch your crappy, hack, uninspired and unoriginal (probably remade) horror-porn. It's bad enough being subjected to your terrible cellophane plot and tired devices. I absolutely will not subject myself to watching your use of rape as a gross-out factor without addressing what it is and what its repercussions are.
I'm looking at you, Hills Have Eyes.
With The Descent, we have a psychological profile of a trauma victim that is explored against a backdrop of sheer, crushing terror and real danger, both from the Creakers and the dark of the Earth. The relationships between women can frequently be complicated- guys that I know don't really understand terms like 'best enemies', or understand how people who are ostensibly friends are actually traversing a continual minefield of mutual resentments and possible outright dislikes, and yet persist in being friends.
The Descent explores the complexity of female relationships (with the added fun of life or death situations and guilt, gobs of it), the fractured nature of a grief-ravaged mind, and oogie creatures that live in the dark, all compressed together in a riveting, stifling, freaking scary 99 minutes.
That movie was awesome.