Friday, June 25, 2010

The end of The Descent & The Descent 2

First off, a big thank you to Caitlin of for the great review of The Descent 2 yesterday. I like to think she had fun writing that review, and I know that I had a blast writing my review for her site. So, again, thank you (let's do this again!).

One of the things that I really shied away from in discussing The Descent 2 was it's ending. And today, that's what I want to talk about.

So, you know, you've been warned.

As you may recall, at the end of The Descent, Sarah sacrifices Juno to escape the cave monsters. Now, of course, by this point she's seen things you people wouldn't believe. Attack ships on fire off the shoulder of Orion. I watched C-beams glitter in the dark near the Tannhauser gate... No. That was someone else. Sarah has seen her friends die in the caves She's seen a terrible side of her friend Juno; she learned that her husband had cheated on her with Juno and watched Juno kill one of the group. In order to survive, Sarah went through one hell of a traumatic experience, culminating in turning on Juno and leaving her to be devoured by the cave monsters.

And then, a mere day or two later in movie time, after her amazing escape with her life, if not her sanity, she's tossed right back into the caves. She's already scarred, but Deputy Rios isn't. Rios' journey is very similar to Sarah's from the first movie. It's Rios who has to sacrifice her colleague to save Sarah. It's Rios who has the child she may lose as a result of this ordeal. And there are times where it's easy to think that Sarah realizes all of this, too. And I think that Sarah realizes that she lost a big part of herself in the caves, and doesn't want that to happen to Rios. So, while Rios had to do some awful things, like hack someone's arm off with a pick ax, you get the feeling that her humanity was intact. Rios' first instinct may have been to leave Juno to die, but it wasn't out of selfishness, it was just pragmatic. By that point, she was willing to make the same decisions to escape, but for much more rational reasons. This mirroring is evident even in the clothes that they wear. Rios' outfit is nearly identical to what Sarah was wearing when she escaped.

Watching the movie, you can't help but feel good when Rios escapes the cave. When Sarah escaped in the first movie, you just had this feeling that she'd never be  the same, that the trauma had just gotten to her, not so for Rios. When Rios runs out of the cave, there's a sense that everything is going to be fine. She'll go back to her kid and everything will work out ok for her, which is why the sudden blow to the head with a shovel is such a WTF moment.

It's not the only reason though. There is a complete lack of foreshadowing. The old man that hits Rios is the same guy who Sarah found on the road at the beginning and brought her to a hospital. Why didn't he feed Sarah to them? How on Earth is he just WAITING for someone to escape the cave, and also just happens to have a handy shovel with him? It's ridiculous and poorly executed. I understand that they're trying to use it to launch into a third movie, and that's fine, but the whole thing has no context and just makes you with that the movie had ended about 120 seconds sooner.

When the movie ended, all I could think was 'What the fuck??? I need to talk to someone about this!'. It's just that kind of a thing. I mean, here I am, days later, still trying to figure it out. I'm still trying to make sense of the whole thing.

If you've seen The Descent 2 as well, I'd love to hear your thoughts on the ending, or in general, in the comments.