Monday, October 19, 2015

Top 20 Horror Movies - #11) The Descent (2005)

One of the things that I'm doing this month as I celebrate Halloween here in the Land of Way is taking the time to rank my Top 20 Horror Movies and my Top 20 Horror Novels.

I want to be clear that I'm basing these choices on my own humble opinion.  I'm not trying to rank these movies in accordance with their place in pop culture, but I'm offering up my take on the best horror films that I have ever watched and enjoyed.  There are some familiar candidates that I consider to be great pictures that didn't make the cut because there wasn't room, and there are some films that are widely regarded as great pictures that didn't make the cut because I feel that they are overrated.  There are also a few instances where it was difficult to determine whether or not a movie belonged to the horror genre (I said "no" to Aliens but "yes" to Jaws), and it may also be worth noting that this is largely a modern list (as long as you're okay with my classification of modern as anything after 1960) that only features one lonely creature from the so-called "Classic Monsters" films produced by Universal Studios.

Thus far, the list includes:

#20) The Fly (1986) 
#19) The Howling (1981)
#18) Night of the Living Dead (1968)
#17) Alien (1979) 
#16) Invasion of the Body Snatchers (1978)
#15) Suspiria (1977) 
#14) Phantasm (1979)
#13) Evil Dead 2 (1985)
#12) Creature from the Black Lagoon (1954) 

Last time out, we turned the clock way back to 1954, where we discussed the oldest film to make my list.  Today, I'm breaking down the most recent film to make the cut.

Top 20 Horror Movies - #11) The Descent (2005)

This claustrophobic feature from 2005 delivers the goods so far as both internal and external fright is concerned.  The Descent is a movie that is willing to do anything to destroy your comfort zone and subject you to absolute terror.  The plot follows a group of adventurous women who enjoy extreme sports.  Hoping to offset the grief one of their members is dealing with as she struggles with the loss of her husband and daughter in a tragic accident, they prepare for an expedition into a pedestrian cave.  Unfortunately, this attempt at social therapy goes badly awry when their leader elects to forego the novice grotto and instead leads her peers into an uncharted system.  Early on, a passage becomes blocked, and these unlucky ladies know there is no hope of rescue as the proper authorities believe they are in another cave altogether.  Now, these feisty females must find a way out before their batteries go dead and they are lost in the darkest recesses of the Appalachians.  This is a terrifying premise, but things get worse when writer and director Neil Marshall injects cannibalistic humanoid monstrosities into the mix.  Expertly plotted, well-acted, and bolstered by sensational cinematography and effects, The Descent is a relentless horror film that is packed with tension and fright.  It is one of the most terrifying films to make this list, and I will add that I really dig all the girl power on display throughout this riveting gem.  If I was making a list of the scariest horror movies ever, this incredibly dark motion picture that doesn't pull any punches would rank even higher.

Coming hot on the heels of Dog Soldiers, The Descent seemed to herald the arrival of a new horror maestro.  Even if Neil Marshall has failed to live up to the hype since then, The Descent is still a fantastic movie that is truly terrifying.

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