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The Descent is creepy and scary. Definitely one of the better horror films to come out recently. It builds up the suspense and the way that things fall apart for these characters is done quite well. There is one thing though. The version in American theaters is slightly altered from the original UK version. So, after you go see the movie in the theater, watch the uncut ending on youtube. They cut about 1 minute off the ending of the film.

The US version ends with Sarah escaping the cave, running into the SUV and driving off. She then pulls over and Juno is next to her, obviously some sort of ghost that is haunting her now, like her daughter was earlier in the movie.
The UK version doesn't end there, though. Juno is screaming in the car and then Sarah wakes up and is still in the cave. She looks up and sees her daughter holding the birthday cake, which repeats the imagery that we are familiar with throughout the movie. Then the camera starts pulling back and we see that Sarah is just insane, the cake is really just the torch and there is no escape from the cave. Sarah's descent into madness is complete. In fact, it's also reasonable to make a logical leap that the monsters in the cave were not real at all and Sarah murdered all her friends, or that Sarah and Juno are the same person, but I think those theories produce more plot holes than they solve. I like the simple elegance that getting trapped in the dark, watching all her friends get killed by monsters after having her family die a year earlier just put Sarah over the edge. She no longer could mentally handle the situation and is doomed. Quite the dark prospect for the end of the movie but it makes it feel like a much more complete work, as well as making the title that much more relevant.

The UK version brings closure to the symbolism that the movie was presenting throughout the whole movie. After I was leaving the theater after the movie, I was puzzling about the ending quite a bit because so much seemed unanswered, as well as things being too convenient during her escape. Finding a way out after falling down another hole? Being able to find the cars without much difficulty even though coming out of the cave at a seemingly random location in the forest? That small cut makes such a big difference in the interpretation of the film. Everyone looks for different things in movies like these and just like any story with multiple endings, the "best ending" is never an easy thing to decide. But personally, I'm generally against altering the director's vision. There is too many examples of studios editing film and ruining it in the process.


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Aug. 8th, 2006 11:15 am (UTC)
From Entertainment Weekly
With the eye gouging, disembowelments, and pickaxes to the neck, the upcoming British gorefest The Descent doesn't leave much to the imagination. But there's one thing you won't see in the theater on Aug. 4: the horror flick's original ending. While our friends in the U.K.—where The Descent has already come, gone, grossed $5 million, and been released on DVD—loved the film, they weren't digging its überhopeless finale. So when the U.S. debut rolled around, Lionsgate decided to release Neil Marshall's Deliverance-style tale about six female cave explorers slaughtered by a cadre of creepy crawlers without the downbeat finale. (What happens in the original? We're not going to spoil it for you, but let's just say the body count is different.)

''It's a visceral ride, and by the time you get to the ending you're drained,'' says Lionsgate marketing chief Tim Palen. ''Marshall had a number of endings in mind when he shot the film, so he was open [to making a switch].'' The director's ultimate solution? Sub in one of his alternate shots, and cut the last minute or so of the movie. Of course, both scenarios are expected to make it to DVD, giving fans an opportunity—à la 28 Days Later—to choose the heroine's fate for themselves. And if you decide to check out The Descent in theaters, remember: Even though the story has been perked up, that doesn't mean everything is sunshine and lollipops. In fact, Marshall likens the denouement to The Texas Chainsaw Massacre: ''Just because she gets away, does that make it a happy ending?''

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