There is just something that works for me in underground movies. Not underground movies, but movies that are actually set largely underground.
There is no need to justify loving a great film like The Descent; but liking The Descent 2 goes a long way toward proving my point. It doesn’t matter why the people are underground. It could be caves like The Cave or Sanctum. Could be really deep like The Core or really shallow like Buried. Could be subways like Creep or End of the Line. Could be mines like My Bloody Valentine or today’s subject. Like putting putting people in a spaceship, putting people in danger underground is always a great premise.
That said, the actual start to this film is not great. It begins in a flash-forward with an annoying voice-over and a mine set which struck me as cheesy (although not so much when the action actually got there). There is an effective quick scene where we hear a crying woman trapped behind a barred door trying to claw her way out, then we cut to Michael who lost me with his first line of dialogue.
There is just something not comfortable about him and I don’t think it is his character. In his chat with girlfriend Briana Evigan, I sense zero relationship there. She mentions his meds which we learn are to combat schizophrenia, but that doesn’t seem to be the problem either. This is not a couple.
They are getting supplies at a convenience store. Beside the door is strange item — some sort of board that advertises the Washington Tribune’s story of “Couple Found Murdered in RV.” Has a newspaper gone to that much effort since the Titanic sank? This board should have been worn by a street-urchin hawking newspapers in 1912, I tells ya. Second — caution, time loops ahead — I can’t decide whether it makes sense that the deaths are being referenced yet.
The group consists of Lex, with the mug, disposition and wit of a soccer hooligan; Guy, the very stiff grand-son of Gregory Peck and amazing doppelganger of Benedict Cumberbatch; Michael, the wispy, solid-as-Jello schizophrenic; and TJ, whose main characteristic is that he is not one of the other three guys.
With them are Rose, who has psychic flashes; Claire, the cute one; and Lyla, Michael’s unlikely girlfriend played by Briana Evigan.
The gang finds an abandoned mine near the cabin and ignores the warnings not to enter. After doing a little exploration, they go back to the cabin.
The most odious member of the group, Lex, claims he dropped his wallet, so he and TJ take a 2nd trip to the mine. There, they discover two dead corpses of themselves. They go back to the cabin and tell the group what they saw.
Guy doesn’t believe them, so they make a 3rd trip to the mine in the same day. For a change in a horror movies, the bodies are still there, and everyone agrees they are in trouble.
Naturally, the solution is to take a 4th trip to the mine. This time, behind the barred door seen in the opening, they find another body — this time alive, and more importantly, cute — Claire. As they already have a Claire in the cabin, they leave her and return to the cabin.
Michael is acting very creepy, so they decide to exile him from the cabin. But where to go? Hmmmmm . . . . so we get the 5th trip to the mine today where he is locked in a room, sadly for him not the same one as Claire.
After they return to the cabin, Rose has another psychic flash saying that Michael has escaped. So they make the 6th trip to the mine that day.
There are time-loops, are-we-already-dead conversations, psychic flashes, nice callbacks to earlier events, people meeting themselves, and the very clever use of a particular note.
There are a couple of wildcards thrown in to provide alternative explanations, at least briefly, for the strange happenings. The use of mushrooms to explain Rose’s psychic flashes is clever. There is also an aurora borealis which is never really connected to the story, but does linger mysteriously over the proceedings. However, I never got the sense that Michael’s illness was the root of his craziness, and I found it to be mostly a distraction.
This is in the same vein (ha, mining humor!) as Triangle and Timecrimes, an enjoyable time — and mind — bender. The only weakness for me was the actor playing Michael, and unfortunately he is in far more scenes than the other actors.
- It took 4 writers and 12 producers to make this.
- “You brought a rolling suitcase on a camping trip”