Jon Harris, who edited 2005’s THE DESCENT, does double duty as director and editor of Lionsgate’s thoroughly unnecessary sequel that takes place immediately following the U.S. ending of the original. It’s important to emphasize “the U.S. ending,” because most international prints had a different (and more satisfying) coda than what we got here in America.
THE DESCENT: PART 2 is based on a flimsy premise, that the local county Mounties would force the traumatized Sarah (Shauna Macdonald), the lone survivor of the first film, to take them back into the cave she escaped from to look for survivors. Instead of chick spelunkers, her companions this time include Sheriff Vaines (Gavan O’Herlihy, TV’s Chuck Cunningham in the flesh), his single-mother deputy Rios (Krysten Cummings), and a pair of married rescue workers with inexplicable British accents (the film is set in Appalachia, but was filmed in Scotland).
The plot is mainly a retread of THE DESCENT, but with worse lighting, worse makeup effects, worse scripting, a flagrant disregard for what made the first film so damn scary, and one of the stupidest twist endings in horror cinema. For a direct-to-video horror flick, though, PART 2 is not without merit. Harris occasionally manages to stir up a bloody good scare (two characters have to use a corpse to swing across a chasm), and the performers sell the claustrophobia, although the screenplay is less successful than THE DESCENT was at making its characters come alive so their deaths would have an emotional impact on us.
THE DESCENT is a pretty terrific horror film, one with an interesting concept, well-rounded characters, a spooky setting, and terrifying monsters. PART 2 is too much of a retread to be successful, but it’s edgy enough to make it worth a look, as long as you ignore the foolish ending.