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Saturday, September 09, 2006

The horror!

Hm. Well. I always knew that the Brits made better horror films, but now I hope the rest of America knows it too.

I'm talking about The Descent, of course; the movie that made me wonder why on Earth I ever visited Mammoth Cave, and Florida Caverns State Park, and every other cave system that my mother ever took me to. It also kind of made me wonder why she likes caves so much, since she gets bad claustrophobia. In any case, it's a good old-fashioned high-strung nervous-tension weird-psychology not-too-gory horror film that the English pull off so well and the Americans just can't seem to manage. Not scary enough to warrant arm-clinging, however, so girls, don't get your hopes up.

Plus, it drives home a point (embeds it with a bolt hanger, in fact) that everyone should acknowledge: SPELUNKING IS INSANE. You go cave-climbing, and you just might run into some sort of highly (d)evolved humanoids who will eat you alive if they get the chance. You go cave-climbing, and you might end up killing five of your close friends in horrible ways, and swimming in pools of blood, and getting stuck in foot-square crawl spaces.

See what I mean? The Descent is a a great horror film. Easily the best scary movie of the last ten years (which really isn't saying much, if you consider all the ghastly Hollywoodized remakes, but still). However...and this is a big however...you may want to wait for the DVD release, not because it's not worth the eight bucks to hand over to the bored AMC employee, but because the US release has a different ending than the UK release. And when the DVD comes out, both versions will be available. So, though I didn't see the UK version, I'm betting it'd be great to see it first and then view the American release.

See, the American version ends with the main protagonist (Sarah) escaping, apparently, finding her way back to her car, and driving madly down the forsaken Appalachian highway. She then sees one of her spelunking mates (Juno), who is apparently dead, sitting in the front seat next to her. Sarah screams; then the movie ends. Now, pretty good ending, I'd say. I walked out of the theatre impressed, and happy that Lionsgate didn't see fit to dumb it down for happy-ending-loving American audiences. Then I read a few reviews online and learned about the original British ending, which is the same as the American, but with the addition of a few extra frames after Juno appears in the car. Juno appears, Sarah screams, then wakes up inside the cavern again, then hallucinates that her dead daughter is beside her. Creature-type screams are heard, and the film ends.

Now. Also a good ending. But I'm not sure which I think is better, because both endings work well. The US ending allows the movie to be both physical and psychological--you can take it that the creatures are real, that Sarah's friends were all eaten by subhuman monsters and though she made it out alive, clearly things aren't over, since seeing your dead friends is usually a bad sign. Or you can take it that the entire escape is a hallucination, made clear by Juno's impossible appearance. The UK ending is a little more obvious: Sarah is screwed, whether or not the monsters are figments of her imagination. So all I have to ask is, Why do people feel the urge to fiddle with movie endings? I hate the prevailing belief that Americans can't handle depressing or frightening endings. It's a horror movie, for Pete's sake. You want a happy ending, you should have bought a ticket for Barnyard.

Regardless. Great movie. Go see it. Right now.

An afterthought--if you read this blog, just assume that I'm posting spoilers as far as movies and books are concerned. Hah. A little after the fact, but get over it.
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