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YMMV / The Descent

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  • Alternative Character Interpretation:
    • Some see Sarah as a sympathetic and crazy Woobie, while others see her as a evil psychopath who committed an unredeemable act. Some see Juno as a flawed but ultimately heroic badass, while others see her as the selfish bitch who got all her friends killed by taking them to the wrong cave and practically murdered Beth. Word of God states that Juno's character was deliberately created to make the audience flip-flop between loving her and hating her.
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    • Question: What would you do if your home was invaded by a bunch of weird-looking giantesses with insanely advanced technology who were impossible to communicate with? Especially after one killed a child?
  • Better on DVD:
    • Played straight and subverted at the same time. On one hand, there is a lot of detail and scenes that you can't really enjoy as much unless it's on a huge high def cinema screen, but on the other hand, there's a lot of subtle things in the scenery and with character interactions that you don't notice the first few times you see it.
    • Some have actually stated they prefer home viewing, as watched in the dark with no distracting noises provide for one unsettling experience.
  • Broken Base:
    • See the entry on Alternate Character Interpretation.
    • Disagreement about whether the crawlers are real or Sarah is the one killing her friends- see below can get very heated and supporters of one interpretation often flat-out refuse to accept that the other is even remotely possible.
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    • There's also the matter of Juno's Accidental Murder of Beth. On the one hand, yes she killed her friend and lied about it. On the other, Beth approached her from behind in the dark without giving any indicator of who she was.
  • Darkness-Induced Audience Apathy: Yikes. This trope applies in an oddly different manner than most horror movies, it's not hard to watch because the characters are so awful it's impossible to care about the plot, but because they're so relatable and sympathetic all the horrible things that happen to them are that much worse. Let's just say that the title is very accurate - this is a film that only goes down.
  • Epileptic Trees:
    • Some view the film as being Through the Eyes of Madness - that Sarah is imagining the presence of the Crawlers and is the one killing her friends, having completely lost it. This idea is suggested, but is ambiguous at best (and the sequel pretty much kills the idea).
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    • Another theory is that Sarah also perished in the car crash and the rest of the film is a Dying Dream.
  • Fridge Brilliance: The reason why Beth is the most level-headed and reassuring of the entire group is because she's an English teacher, not fucking Tomb Raider. Her literal job is to look up for a group of school kids and make sure they are safe, so she's doing the exact same thing with her friends when spelunking and facing various dangers of the cave.
  • Fridge Horror: Imagine how horrifying it must be for Sarah to watch Beth die after being stabbed with a sharp object after how her husband died.
  • Idiot Plot: Unless you're a speleology professional, caving in uncharted cave systems is a very bad idea. Of course, meeting anthropophagous Morlocks isn't certain, but other problems met by the protagonists before encountering the monsters (like getting lost or collapsing of the cave, and not knowing where other exits are. . . or even if other exits exist) are actual hazards of the activity. Also, since Juno filed a "flight plan" for a completely different cave, when these women don't come back all the search parties will be looking in the wrong place, making rescue impossible. This is lampshaded when Juno is found out and the others give her a verbal smackdown.
  • Moral Event Horizon:
    • For some, Sarah crosses this when she impales Juno's leg with a pick and leaves her for dead, after learning that the latter not only left Beth for dead and lied about it, but she was also having an affair with her late husband. (Although, to be fair, Sarah had become rather batshit by that point.)
    • For some others, Juno crossed this when she left Beth for dead and lied about it. It's kind of a touchy, but much-brought up subject amongst fans. One could also argue that Juno did this much earlier by tricking her friends into the wrong cave, including a novice, or that her affair with Sarah's husband qualifies.
  • Nausea Fuel: Holly breaking her leg, resulting in the splintered bone poking out of the wound - and having to have said bone pushed back in minutes later.
  • Narm: The cave drawings were a little bit narm-y.
  • Paranoia Fuel: You probably shouldn't watch this film if you're planning on going caving any time soon.
  • Retroactive Recognition:
  • Sequelitis: The second film had to retcon the end of the first, lacked the unique visual look of the cave scenes (resorting to straight Hollywood Darkness) and lost a lot of the great atmosphere from the first. Not a bad sequel, but regarded as So Okay, It's Average.
  • Special Effects Failure: While most of the effects are extremely convincing, at least one of the Crawlers coming towards Juno towards the end is very blatantly a CG effect.
  • Squick: Falling into a pool of blood. The sequel managed to top it: Falling into a pool of blood and crawler shit.
  • Too Cool to Live: Holly, the bad ass tough girl who loves thrills, is the first main character to die. Her broken leg sort of made her an easy target.
    • And even more so after that, Juno and Sarah.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Character: Becca, whose death is one of the most senseless and tragic in terms of plot impact. Also Holly, who could have been a Handicapped Badass in her own right.
  • They Wasted a Perfectly Good Plot: The movie makes the standard Developing Doomed Characters segment more exciting by having the characters spend it trapped in a cave. A dark cave, filled with narrow passageways barely large enough to crawl through and gaping chasms that they have to cross by clinging to the ceiling. This is enough material to sustain a horror movie all on its own; having the cave *also* contain monsters on top of that was overkill and not necessary at all (although YMMV).
  • Uncanny Valley: The crawlers were originally going to look more animalistic, but when they did the prosthetics tests, they decided it was scarier to have them closer to human.
  • The Woobie: Everyone gets their moments, although the most prominent example would be Sarah, pre-Ax-Crazy.


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