Descent: Part 2
Blu-ray | DVD
Directed by Jon Harris
Starring Shauna MacDonald, Natalie Mendoza, Douglas Hodge, Krysten Cummings
Release date: April 27, 2010
A lot of sequels make the same mistakes: they go too far, they add too much, and they assume bigger is always better. Add to that the familiar idea of “direct-to-dvd” usually is a sign of poor quality. Fortunately for fans of the original The Descent film, the sequel has avoided some of the usual pitfalls and manages to be a relatively satisfying sequel.
Picking up immediately where the original film ends, The Descent 2 clarifies the ambiguous ending of the original, which saw traumatized spelunker Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) escaping from an previously unknown cave system inhabited by inbred, mutated humans called “crawlers.” However, the original film also included an additional scene that implied Sarah had only imagined escape as she descended into madness and was still stuck inside the caves. This ends up being discarded in the new film, with Sarah’s escape being real.
At the hospital, Sarah is questioned by the police, who need her help in discovering the fate of her fellow explorers. Sarah is unable to help, though, as the trauma has left her in a state of shock unable to remember anything that happened. The police are insistent, due to political pressure from the father of Juno (Natalie Mendoza), one of Sarah’s friends who remains missing. Though Sarah cannot remember doing so, she attacked Juno and left her for dead in the first film after personal conflicts came to a head. Juno’s blood on Sarah’s clothes is all the proof the police need that Sarah knows where she is, and so Sheriff Vaines (Gavan O’Herlihy) takes Sarah and Deputy Rios (Krysten Cummings) back to the caves to search for Juno. They bring with them three other people who really don’t serve much purpose besides being expendable.
The first film managed to instill fear in viewers long before the crawlers show up by playing on claustrophobia. While the sequel attempts to do the same, it falls a bit short this time. There are less instances of characters confined by rock and more instances of crawlers appearing out of nowhere for quick scares. Even the scenes where a character finds themselves panicking in confinement seem less intense and more of an obvious setup for the crawlers to appear.
In the bonus “making of” featurette included on the disc, the filmmakers describe the crawlers featured in the sequel as “more inbred” than the ones seen in the first, but any differences shown are marginal. This is preferable to any major changes to the monsters that occasionally happen in sequels. Though we only first began to learn of the nature of the crawlers in the first film, it would seem highly unlikely that major subspecies of them went unnoticed only to be the only ones present 48 hours later. They were plenty scary the first time around and don’t need to be mutated to further that purpose. Additional bonus commentary showed the filmmakers were consciously making an effort to avoid adding too much to the second film, including the use of firearms. This was a wise decision.
Other bonus features include deleted scenes, storyboards, and commentary from the director and cast.
Though the scares are not as frequent or as intense this time around, The Descent 2 still manages to fittingly progress the story. With the original cast returning and the success of the first film, it is surprising this one did not receive even a limited theatrical release in the United States. Even as a mediocre sequel, this film does more to stay true to the original than many of the half-assed sequels that get much better publicity, and fans of the first film will likely appreciate the effort.