THE TOP TEN: #10: The Descent
I saw The Descent way back in 2005, when the DVD was released in the autumn, after a summer run that I was unable to participate in (I wasn't old enough for the 18 certificate), and I have no shame is saying that the film terrified me, even on the miniscule screen in my bedroom on that spinning disc. The Descent is as dark as horror films come, not least because most of it takes place deep underground, where it was ensured there was no light bar what the potholing girls had brought with them. The Descent's underground labyrinths are entirely false, but you'd never guess; so tight is Neil Marshall's directorial control over these tiny spaces that the feeling of claustrophobia and panic is utterly palpable. The film doesn't even let you in easily: a quick introduction to the clan of girls whom we'll be following into the darkness is a tense, unspoken suspicion of betrayal, topped off by a sudden and horrifying car accident, the backlash of which feeds cleverly into the later machinations. In essence I suppose The Descent is nothing new, really, but how often do you come across a horror film- and a British one no less- that's this tightly controlled, this committed to its convictions, and this atmospheric? The Descent still lives with me almost a year and a half after seeing it, and surely that's some kind of power.