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Friday, December 7, 2007

The Descent (from above)

Earlier this week I managed to watch The Descent, a British horror flick that I missed on its cinema, rental, DVD, and satellite spiral. Luckily the nice folks at Channel 4 marched it into the last broadcast saloon known as terrestrial telly and I finally caught up with it. Unfortunately they failed to warn me that it is the scariest movie ever made :-(

Essentially the story is that there is a group of intelligent, peaceful cave dwellers living under the Appalachian mountains, every so often they venture above ground and hunt for food, but otherwise keep themselves to themselves. Then one day a bunch of psychotic killers drops into their midst, all of a sudden the cave dwellers find themselves fighting for their lives as the deranged invaders storm every last corner of their home, smashing in dwellers heads with rocks, drowning them and being positively vicious with a pick axe.

The dwellers fight back, but because they are blind they have no real chance against the stronger, more intelligent predators that are slowly wiping them out. The invaders even get a bit bored and start murdering each other at several points in the story. The film ends with the brave dwellers taking out the invaders main soldier (at a huge cost if the screaming and splatters are anything to go by), while the invader's leader sinks completely into madness.

The weird thing is that the film makers decided to tell the story from the point of view of the psychotic invaders (who of course are humans, in fact a party of women going caving), almost ignoring the noble family lives of the dwellers (who of course are presented as hideous monsters).

I just don't buy this telling. It seems obvious to me that it is the women who are the most terrifying monsters, take the score at the end of the film:

  • Humans 10
  • Monsters 3
and that's with the monsters having the advantage of being on their home turf. Let's face it, as soon as the word gets out that the mountain's full of pasty-looking monkey-men they're stuffed (probably in the 'and mounted' sense of the word).

It's not the first time that I've noticed this weird twisting of the tale. Take the film Aliens (the second one with James Cameron at the helm). Its true that at the beginning of the film around 300 people get turned into human Cow&Gate paste for the Alien nursery (shame it wasn't those Spartans - that would have shown them!), but look what happens when we later inject a measly 13 soldiers into an otherwise peaceful alien colony. Thousands of aliens get wiped out in all manor of gun-porn ways, and then at the end, as if to add insult to injury the person who isn't a soldier goes all fancy dress in a JCB costume and tears great lumps out of the alien queen. But wait - there's more. Not intent with this carnage they proceed to nuke the remaining confused aliens from orbit.

  • Humans: pretty much everything
  • Aliens: 313
So the moral is that if you're at a party and notice a corner of wan-looking slimy cave dwellers, another of slick-headed Giger aliens with acid for blood, and a third of ditsy young women in day-glo jackets, go and sit with the monsters - you're statistically less likely to get your head bashed in.

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