The Descent: Part 2 Jon Harris

The Descent: Part 2 Jon Harris
Picking up where the first Descent left off, Part 2 finds Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) distraught, in the hospital and conveniently suffering amnesia, much to the annoyance of an overzealous local sheriff (Gavan O'Herlihy) and his overly empathetic deputy, Rios (Krysten Cummings). Cut through some dreadful dialogue and illogical rationale and the trio are in the cave system looking for Sarah's missing friends, along with a few disposable spelunker specialists. It's all a bit of a disservice to the original, which, along with Neil Marshall's visceral, tonally fluent direction, which found the intensity of any given scene, be it terror, tragedy or compassion, boasted genuine thrills, unexpected plot turns, a pseudo-feminist template and characters with a history, motivation and "descending" trajectory. Here, we have functional and mostly stationary direction, with bland, interchangeable characters and a protagonist whose distress and ire are mostly lost in her fuzzy quest for retribution. Once they're in the cave, the handling of scares is occasionally clever, with the anxiety of claustrophobia taking most of the credit — in particular, scenes where a team member is trapped by collapsed rocks while creepers gradually dig their way in, along with an underwater trek through a narrow tunnel. Even the discovery of, and involvement with, the various dead bodies from the first film give this sequel some context, involving audience reflection as an active participant. But more often than not, the action is limp and the tension recycled, which is a problem when the character drama is non-existent. There's even a quick trip to the washroom, with Sarah and Rios falling into a shit pit and subsequently being crapped on by a creeper. Where the original film had the benefit of the unknown and foreboding (the creepers didn't even show up until the last half-hour), the sequel has only the surviving members, a half-baked plot and a handful of clever scare scenes to give it relevance. Ultimately, it comes off as little more than above-average, straight-to-DVD horror. The DVD includes an extensive "Making of" supplement, which addresses the inherent problems in making a sequel to a movie that derived some of its power from its mystery and sense of doom, along with a commentary track with director Jon Harris and actors Shauna MacDonald, Krysten Cummings and Anna Skellern. (Maple)