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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: 23 September 2021

Going Underground

Going Underground

(p.37) Going Underground
The Descent

James Marriott

Liverpool University Press

This chapter looks at caves in and out of horror films, and asks which of several millennia-worth of cave associations are mobilised in Neil Marshall's The Descent (2005). Firstly, and perhaps most importantly, caves are dark, providing the principal fear that The Descent plays on, perhaps the most primal fear of all. But darkness is only half the story. Cinematic underworlds are multivalent spaces, able equally to represent a social underground or a character's psyche, and all points in between. The characters in The Descent — indeed in any cave horror film — are oppressed by the crushing weight not only of several thousand tons of rock around them but also with the overloaded symbolic freight of the cave, and its several millennia-worth of mythic associations. Ultimately, the cave represents nature in its cycle of death and rebirth, but also represents the abyss, the void, and the limits of knowledge.

Keywords:   caves, horror films, Neil Marshall, The Descent, darkness, cinematic underworlds, cave horror film, mythic associations, fear

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