Rarely do I end up leaving a feature film with some rather stark and gritty impressions left in my mind after I take out the disc from my DVD or HD player. However, there are maybe a small handful of films which really do make me say to myself...wow. The Descent is one of these films. If you notice the theatrical release date and the release to retail, there's only about 4 months between the two. Normally, this is indicative of a movie which has a stigma of not being so great in terms of cast and overall quality. However, like so many independent or low-budget films, The Descent is being rediscovered as one of the best horror films to date. The premise is simple and realistic, which will throw you off track at times because let's face it, you're used to the mostly boring, typical plot, I know who's going to die in the first 5 minutes of the movie kind of movie. The Descent is certainly far from being boring, and we'll discuss what makes it work so well at the conclusion of this review.
Features: 6.1 PCM Audio (LPCM) soundtrack.
Codec / Resolution: MPEG-4 AVC / 1080p
Movie File Size: 23 GB
Average Bitrate: 21.56 Mbps
Movie Release: August 4, 2006
This Release: December 26, 2006
MPAA Rating: R / Unrated
Running Time: 1 hr 40 mins
Current Price: Check Price / Purchase
AVC vs. MPEG-2 Version
There are two versions of this movie on Blu-ray. For some reason, Lionsgate determined the original AVC transfer was not good enough and instead, secretly pressed an MPEG-2 transfer. Personally, I don't like MPEG-2 as a codec for HD. AVC and VC-1 should be the only codecs used. But even this biased opinion aside, we do have documented differences between the versions. It is known the MPEG-2 version does have a marginal amount less of detail, smoothing over the film in key areas. For some in-depth research on the subject, I highly suggest going to the AVS Forums and searching for the film title.
By a matter of serendipitous purchasing, DigitalDingus managed to obtain the AVC version. Unfortunately, the MPEG-2 version is not available for comparison. For the common viewer, the MPEG-2 version still has a significant amount of detail, so nothing significant is missing. However, for those who want the best transfer available, the AVC version is the best.
One year ago, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) survived a horrific event which changed her life forever. Now, she and five of her friends are getting back together for some female bonding and a rigorous outdoor exploration adventure. As the lean and fit ladies leave their cabin and head out to a cave, what they don't know is Juno (Natalie Mendoza), who is the leader of the group, decided to slightly modify the trip and neglected to tell the others they were going to an unexplored cave. Not really a bright idea, but then again, staying on the highly-trodden path never gave much satisfaction anyway.
We don't exactly where Juno got her information about this cave, and all we know is that it's somewhere in the deep recesses of the Appalachian Mountains in the state of Virginia. One by one, the women descend down into the beautiful abyss. However, the further they descend, the more serious problems present themselves.