Many hail “The Godfather II” and “The Empire Strikes Back” as sequels that lapped the original.
You could argue the same for “Aliens” and “Terminator 2: Judgment Day.”
They’re the exceptions that prove the rule. It’s almost impossible to make a sequel that eclipses the source material. That’s certainly true for “The Descent Part 2.”
The 2009 film didn’t even get a U.S. theatrical release and lacks the cult status of director Neil Marshall’s original. That doesn’t mean it should be overlooked, especially at this time of the year.
Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) survived the harrowing events of the first film but has no memory of what transpired. So when local law enforcement asks her to go back into the infamous cave to see if she can help find her old frenemy Juno (Natalie Mendoza) she agrees.
It’s hard to swallow that plot device, full stop.
You can predict what happens next, and the sense of terror isn’t the same as the first time around. Still, those milky white creatures remain the stuff of nightmares, and Macdonald proves a solid genre performer once more.
Horror hounds will get their fix of creative kills and gore, and the third-act tension is as taut as possible.
Marshall has a tortured relationship with “Part 2.” He served as the executive producer and his original “Descent” editor, Jon Harris, helmed the sequel. Years later, he looked back at “Part 2” with little love. He told the studio not to make a sequel in the first place, advice that was summarily ignored given the original’s success.
He adds that his suggestions for the sequel were similarly discarded.
For my money, the sequel was totally unnecessary. The first film resolves itself, whichever ending you choose. It wraps it up in a way that was bleak, whichever way you cut it. The second film began and it didn’t pick up from either ending.
He’s referring to different versions of “The Descent” which offered separate resolutions for Shauna’s character.
For what it’s worth, Marshall has yet to replicate the greatness of “The Descent.” His recent films have veered from forgettable to awful, with “The Lair” checking in as one of 2022’s worst films.
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