The Descent does make good on following up Dog Soldiers nicely. Neil Marshall is obviously a very smart, talented writer and director, though I think I may have been slightly underwhelmed after hearing so much about how The Descent was the best horror movie of the year.
For my particular taste, it's still not in that realm. Call me a traditional sadist, but I'm more prone to the clean, mean-spirited Hostel or Saw III. Though, still, The Descent is obviously an excellent, well-made film and is deserving of accolades.
The movie is fairly grueling, as a damaged woman and her pack of five friends descend into the caves beneath what is said to be the Appalachians, though, hailing from that region, I know it's fucking Scotland. (Hello, where are my deciduous forests at?) Also, as they're trapped in the cave system, the woman descends into madness. So, double-meaning there.
It's fairly gruesome and you watch the women dangle in the jaws of doom for most of the movie and it provides a nice visceral chunk of gore to keep you entertained in the midst, preying on our darkest fears of being stuck in a hole we can't escape from, dying slowly... Or our bodies being ripped apart and devoured. Whichever seems the more unnerving.
I'd have to say I prefer the full-on international ending, though it was interesting to hear Marshall's discussion on the fact in the DVD extras. The movie is an intriguing character study and has quite a nice bit of psychology mixed up in it, though I did find the "Juno's accident" subplot (if you get my meaning in trying not to give anything away) to be somewhat annoying, possibly because the actress portraying her, Natalie Mendoza, was so strong in the role and I liked her so much, especially in the way it played out. But the film was supposed to be bleak, display one woman's descent into madness, and I think it did that well. The violence and the women's reaction to it (and subsequent growing out of it) was excellent and showed real skill on the part of Marshall and his actors.
It wasn't exactly perfect, but it was an intriguing movie and I look forward to dissecting it fully. And it's yet another high note in modern horror movies.