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The Descent$
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James Marriott

Print publication date: 2013

Print ISBN-13: 9781906733711

Published to Liverpool Scholarship Online: February 2021

DOI: 10.3828/liverpool/9781906733711.001.0001

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PRINTED FROM LIVERPOOL SCHOLARSHIP ONLINE (www.liverpool.universitypressscholarship.com). (c) Copyright Liverpool University Press, 2021. All Rights Reserved. An individual user may print out a PDF of a single chapter of a monograph in LSO for personal use.date: 27 September 2021

The Shock of the Old

The Shock of the Old

(p.33) The Shock of the Old
The Descent

James Marriott

Liverpool University Press

This chapter discusses the lure of atavism in horror, and suggests where Neil Marshall's The Descent (2005) might fit in to this tradition. Horror recognises the allure of the past, figured variously as either pre-Enlightenment or pre-industrial, but tends to conceive of it only in the bloodiest, most violent terms. The nostalgia is driven by a dissatisfaction with modern life, an urge to live closer to a state of nature, untrammelled by the bounds of civilisation. The decision to go on a caving trip, putting their lives in danger for a leisure activity, suggests that the group in The Descent considers modern life soft and unchallenging. They are driven to test themselves in ways otherwise unavailable to them in modern life; they want adrenalin kicks and the best way they have found to get them is through extreme sports.

Keywords:   atavism, horror genre, Neil Marshall, The Descent, nostalgia, modern life, nature, civilisation, caving trip, extreme sports

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