Note: I don't pretend to be any kind of real movie critic, or even to plan out my blog entries in a logical, well-ordered fashion, so this will probably have spoilers of some kind or another.
I took some time out of my busy and also ouchy baby-growing schedule to go to a very early matinee (10:55) of The Descent yesterday. I have a friend who is my scary-movie buddy. Other than us, there were two people in the entire theater. We both brought fleece blankets despite the stifling heat (outside at least), in order to have something to pull over our eyes. However, both our male partners pooped out of going at the last minute, as we kind of expected. They're just not as into horror movies as we are.
I actually want to go see this one again (or rent it). I generally prefer low-gore, high-suspense movies, so I guess that'd be psychological thrillers. This one was a lot more gory than either of us anticipated, but it was okay. It didn't rely on the gore to be the main scary part. I could look away during most of the flesh-gnawing scenes. There were plenty of scary and startling bits that didn't rely on the gross-out. And I had to use some deep breathing to overcome the claustrophobia. I would probably never go caving to begin with, but now I definitely won't. (Maybe that first chamber, with the sunlight and the water pouring in, but that's it!)
I didn't realize (the trailers don't make it very apparent) that most of the actors are Britishy*. The producers probably thought U.S. audiences would hear those accents and immediately pigeonhole it as another of those brainy yet dry type of mysteries that we see on PBS. (Personally I like those, but PBS isn't exactly a giant money-maker, you know?)
Therefore, the tragically-flawed character is naturally the American, who embodies the stereotypical tragic flaws of the US national character in the eyes of the rest of the world: highly skilled but show-offy, arrogant, impulsive, careless, selfish, rash, makes important decisions without consulting the others whom they affect, and so forth. So that was an interesting bit to mull over. (And a change from the way in which Hollywood flicks always, always cast the villain as the character with an English accent.)
(Did I mention I'm forever trying to find some excuse to get my husband to wear a redcoat uniform?)
Anyway, it really is scary immediately, even before the CHUDs come out. So, if you like being scared, then see it. But look away during the parts where the foley artists have to crush eggshells in Jell-O.
*Also, I haven't seen Dog Soldiers nor do I know anything about Neil Marshall, things which would likely have given me a clue in this department.
*OK, a couple of the cavers are Scandinavian, too. I guess that would make it more along the lines of "NATO V. CHUD".