FINAL GIRL explores the slasher flicks of the '70s and '80s...and all the other horror movies I feel like talking about, too. This is life on the EDGE, so beware yon spoilers!

May 6, 2010

Short Review Round-Up Part 2!

The Descent 2

If you know me- and I think you do- then you know that I love Neil Marshall's The Descent, like, a lot. It's still one of my favorite horror movies, and I don't mean it's simply a fave of the last decade...I mean it's a fave.

I was not at all excited about the prospect of a sequel, however. The Descent is a perfectly good example of a stand-alone film. It doesn't need to become a franchise, and a return trip into the crawler-riddled caves has REALLY BAD IDEA written all over it. Of course, once the DVD arrived I couldn't resist that return trip. I knew I'd hate it and it would be a stinky pile, but I had to see it. I mean, it's written into the "You're a Horror Blogger Who Wouldn't Shut Up About The Descent" code.

That's really a code, by the way.

The Descent 2 picks up moments after the end of The Descent. I'm going to simply reprint the synopsis from the film's press notes, because I'm feeling super lazy about it right now.
Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) emerges alone from the Appalachian cave system where she encountered unspeakable terrors. Unable to plausibly explain to authorities what happened- or why she's covered in her friends' blood- Sarah is forced back to the subterranean depths to help locate her five missing companions.
Now, there are a few...implausibilities and inconsistencies that you simply have to cast aside if you're to enjoy this film- particularly if you're a fan of the first movie. Would the authorities really force a traumatized victim to go spelunking? Sarah is so effed up she can barely speak- she's hardly in a competent medical state. But! Cast that aside. Fine, they take Sarah to the cave...which is apparently connected to an old mine. Where authorities are already searching for the missing cavers. In The Descent, it was made to seem that the cave was rather far away from everything- that it was completely uncharted and no one knew of its existence...and no one knew the women were going to be there, because Juno misled everyone. But! Cast that all aside.

Sarah and a rescue team head into the caves...and, as you might expect, the crawlers are still there, and they're still mean. We see what ends were met (or perhaps were not met) by Sarah's friends as their bodies are found. There's a cave-in and yeah, a good portion of The Descent 2 is simply a rehash of The Descent- only the faces and, in some cases, the genitalia have changed.

However, despite this and despite my inclination to dislike it- dammit, I really enjoyed The Descent 2. There are some fantastic sequences with just as much tension as you'll find in the first, and director Jon Harris, who edited The Descent, induces feelings of claustrophobia quite well. Though Neil Marshall's effort certainly didn't lack for gore at all, the sequel is much, much bloodier.

Again, the film is not without its problems- most egregious, perhaps, is that Shauna MacDonald isn't given much to do as Sarah. She transforms from traumatized victim to hardened badass quickly, but the film is more concerned with action than with plot. After Sarah's really fucking bad year, I think she deserved a bit more as a character than the occasional glower.

Overall, I was rather pleasantly surprised with The Descent 2. While it won't make my list of all-time faves next to its predecessor, I'd eagerly watch it again...although I'd turn it off before the very end, which really made no fucking sense whatsoever.

Paranormal Entity

Hooray, everyone's favorite Designer Imposter film production company is back! Yes, The Asylum has birthed into the world Paranormal Entity, their rip-off of the runaway hit Paranormal Activity. Actually, "rip-off" is really too light a term to use here- writer/director/star Shane Van Dyke has straight-up pulled sound effects and shots and plot points from Oren Peli's work.

What does this "found footage" flick has to offer that Paranormal Activity doesn't is a bit more story. The Finley family is being terrorized by an unseen force that may or may not be the spirit of their recently-deceased patriarch. The spirit is particularly interested in Samantha (Erin Marie Hogan), presumably because she wears cleavage-revealing tops and sleeps in her undies.

Oh yeah, Paranormal Entity also features invisible demon rape, know. There's that.

Surprisingly enough, the film has a few genuine scares- both of the shock variety and of the creepy hairs-on-yer-neck variety. Make no mistake, though- it's vastly inferior to Activity...and if you didn't like that (or if you dislike P.O.V. films in general), you're bound to equate this with pure torture. Though P.O.V. films are cheap to produce (Activity, after all, is rumored to have cost under 15k), Paranormal Entity manages to make cheap filmmaking look CHEAP. The "night vision" doesn't look like night vision as much as it looks like a green tint was applied to the footage, and the Finley house is clearly a "demo" house, one a realtor might show. Drawers are empty, the fridge is barren, and the sparse decor looks straight outta the home furnishings department at TJ Maxx. It renders the entire affair inauthentic- not that it ever smacked of realism whatsoever, but still.

All that said, it's quite possibly the best film I've seen from The Asylum. I'm not sure what that's worth, exactly, but there you go.

Birdemic: Shock and Terror

Birdemic is the most enjoyable piece of crap I've ever seen in all my 63 years. It is truly the best worst movie ever made: and yes, I'm counting Troll 2 and Plan 9 from Outer Space and yes- yes! Even my beloved Shark Attack 3: Megalodon. You could not make a movie this bad if you tried your very, very hardest. No one will ever make a movie this bad again. It's not possible. The laws of science will not allow it. I'm telling you: you think you've seen the worst movie ever made...but unless you've seen Birdemic, you haven't. It's that wonderfully atrocious.

Yes, the writing and directing and acting and oh my crap those special effects combine to create a perfect storm of awful...but Birdemic goes deeper than that. Birdemic fucks with your brain.

See, it's not just bad writing. The dialogue has a weird feel to it, as if it was originally written in a language other than English, then run through Babelfish. It' There are non sequiturs in almost every conversation. If you have a chance to hear writer/director James Nguyen in an interview, you'll undertand that weird feel: all the characters are obviously him.

It's not just bad directing. Every shot goes on and on. And on. An on-screen conversation will end, but the camera will not cut. The shot will continue until you feel uncomfortable, until you know for sure it will end- and then it lasts ten more seconds.

The acting is so bad that it defies logic. The best actors in the world- in the history of mankind- could not hope to emulate performances this poor.

The effects are...I cannot adequately describe them. They make SyFy channel CGI crapfests look like Avatar. This is clip art come alive!

Go. Go see this movie if you have a chance. If you enjoy bad movies on any level- any level at all- then you owe it to yourself to see Birdemic. You owe it to your children, and your childrens' children. Seeing this movie may be the reason why you were put on this Earth.

But! Don't you dare see it alone. See it in a theatre if you can- like herpes, Birdemic is best when it's shared. If you have to wait for DVD, invite everyone you know to a viewing. You won't regret it. Or maybe you will...I don't know, I don't lead your life.


CashBailey said...

There's one throw-away moment in Marshall's THE DESCENT that makes me think a sequel could be plausible. And that's when Shauna MacDonald is seen to have popped a few pills and left the bottle behind when they set off.

I thought that would become a factor later on, to explain that she may be a bit 'insane in the membraaaaane'.

Although it may have explained the delusions that lead to the 'original' ending.

Andrew said...

I need Birdemic . I need it badly. I need it like the sea needs the shore, like the sun needs the moon, like Kate Gosselin needs the camera.

Mikey Sarago said...

Oh man, I really didn't like the Descent: Part 2. It was a totally unnecessary sequel. I feel like its very being just sort of ruins the first film and the great ending (the original UK ending, of course), which I thought was perfect. And what happened to Sarah? She was such a badass in the first movie and seemed pretty damn dull in the sequel.

And I seriously cannot wait to see Birdemic, especially now after reading your review, haha. It looks soo effin craptacular.

The Mike said...

I want Birdemic more than ever now. Great stuff, Ms. Ponder.

Daniel Danny Dan said...

I'm usually the first to bark at incredibly unnecessary horror sequels. No, I know most of us complain but I actually bark. What?

Anyhootzle... I freakin' loved The Descent 2. Forcing Sarah back down there was a bit of poo but otherwise a good time was had by all. Shauna conveyed so much with so little dialogue that I felt her arc completely plausible.

The plot alone ensures more of the same but for me this is one of the few instances where it succeeded. I liked the jacked up action, the jump scares actually worked, none of the claustrophobia and anxiety of the first was lost, I enjoyed all of the characters (Save for the sheriff - shock!) and loved that we were given another set of strong yet diverse women.

However, I will concur that the last minute sucked it hard. Using that bit of "logic" Sarah never should have made it to the hospital.

Stacie Ponder said...

"Using that bit of "logic" Sarah never should have made it to the hospital."

I KNOW! It made no sense to the point where it was kind of infuriating. I actually went back and watched all the scenes with that character to see if I'd missed something. I didn't. It was totally out of nowhere and MADE NO SENSE no matter what excuses one tries to come up with.

Daniel Danny Dan said...

My roomie and I theorized for almost an hour but nothing beyond tacked-on ending for yet another sequel made the slightest bit of sense. Well, that and an obvious editing snafu.

Perhaps like Scream's now infamous opening scenes, The Descent is going for confounding endings to muck up otherwise darn good film stuff?

Oh, and I am shocked, SHOCKED, I tell you that you've not reviewed The Asylum's Mega-Piranha. 'Cause wow... and Tiffany!

Kensington said...

Okay, two questions:

1. Does that mean that the U.S. theatrical ending of "The Descent" has to be the "real" ending in order for the sequel to work?

2. Won't you please go ahead and spoil the ending of "The Descent 2"? I'm betting that reading your detailed quibbles about it will be more rewarding than remaining unspoiled on the off chance that I see this film someday.

Beside, if you won't spoil it, someone at IMDB already has, I'm sure. But they're all such douches over there that I'd rather just hear it from you.

gord said...

@Daniel, yeah Mega-Piranha looks awesome.

I've been waiting for quite a while for Birdemic to come to a city near me. But it hasn't. Why? WHY?!

Kmork said...

Birdemic is such an awful, awful movie...but I can't get enough of it! The scene where Rod locates a fishing rod (and a stove!) elicited one of the biggest laughs I've had in a while.

Anonymous said...

I gave Paranormal Entity a shot because it had a three star average at Netflix, which is really good for an Asylum film. I guess a lot of people felt the invisible demon rape was missing from Paranormal Activity or something?

Meg said...

Sweeet, Birdemic is coming to Seattle at the end of June (two nights only, midnight showings). I will rustle up a posse. Thanks for the heads-up, S-Po. Sounds like the perfect thing.

Stacie Ponder said...

You won't regret it! Or maybe you will. Such a gamble, this life.

Seriously, I knew I'd laugh...but I didn't expect to laugh through essentially the ENTIRE THING. It's unbelievable.

Anonymous said...

Didn't they jack up the creatures in the Descent part 2? In the first one they didn't seem as strong as the ladies.

Anonymous said...

You've made me really want to see Birdemic. But I'll prolly end up alone, I don't think my friends have forgiven me for the last movie I made them see.

Ruben Romero said...


Sick House Admin said...

Paranormal Entity. Wow. I spent a good little while in front of my PC watching this little copycat gem on Netflix. I have to agree with you for the most part on your review. Mine wasn't too terribly different.

Except for the demon rape, it was essentially the same damn thing as Activity, and would have been the big hit if someone at Asylum had any tiny shred of individuality or originality...and had thought of the movie a year earlier. :P

Monica S. Kuebler said...

But have you seen Ax 'Em? Birdemic IS indeed terrible, but it just can't top the even greater ineptitude of Ax 'Em. If you are unfamiliar, you can check it out on at

Stacie Ponder said...

I have not seen Ax 'Em.