‘The Descent Part 2’ – A Worthy Follow-Up That Honors the Original’s Spirit
When you were a kid, did you ever read any of the Choose Your Own Adventure Books? The way they worked was that you would get to a certain point in the book and would be asked which path you wanted to go down to continue the story. The creative team behind The Descent: Part 2 must have read one or two growing up.
Everyone who has seen the original film knows that there are two endings. In the first ending Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) makes it out of the caves and away from the ‘Crawlers’ alive; in the second one she is trapped down there in the darkness with them. The Descent: Part 2 takes the path ‘Sarah survives, what happens next’.
The film picks up two days after the events of the original. Sarah is found and taken to a hospital with trauma and no memory of what has happened to her and the rest of her friends. Meanwhile a search has been organized and is underway to find them, especially since we now find out that Juno Kaplan (Natalie Mendoza) is the daughter of a state Senator ala’ Catherine Martin in Silence of the Lambs. So now Sheriff Vaines (Gavin O’Herlihy) wants to take Sarah back down to the caves to help a rescue party locate her missing friends. This crew includes Sarah and Sheriff Vaines as well as his deputy Ellen Rios (Krysten Cummings) and a three man team of specialists trained in cave rescues. The further they descend the clearer Sarah’s memory becomes. She knows what happened to her friends. She knows what waits for them in the darkness of the caves. Before you can say Sawney Beane (look it up, kids) the team gets separated and the Crawlers are on them in a flash with teeth gnashing and claws slashing. The first played on the strengths of the women as a team and as individuals and this film proceeds to do the same thing. The men in the film do what men tend to do; shoot first and ask questions later.
Meanwhile, the Crawlers still haunt the tunnels, attacking the rescuers with ferocious speed. In tight spaces, their blurred forms punctuate the blackness before receding. But they observe, waiting to pick off the team one by one. When they do strike, it’s a blur of fangs and claws.
While the story retreads some ground, the root elements remain exceptionally executed. Claustrophobia and disorientation reign, as new characters succumb to panic. And Sarah’s internal struggle provides emotional continuity, with Shauna Macdonald giving a raw, convincing performance.
Rather than a rehash, ‘The Descent Part 2’ expands the lore while recapturing the tangible terror. Nimble, ruthless, and steeped in dread, it sinks depths many sequels don’t dare explore. I have read the comments from quite a few people concerning this film and I can honestly say that a lot of people seem to hate it. They feel that making a second Descent is equal to blasphemy. I disagree. Yes, the first film was a great horror film. Still, I felt that The Descent: Part 2 more than holds its’ own against The Descent. But don’t take my word for it. Watch it for yourselves. Enjoy.