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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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Nightmares in a Damaged Brain

Nightmares in a Damaged Brain

(p.73) Nightmares in a Damaged Brain
The Descent

James Marriott

Liverpool University Press

This chapter addresses Sarah's mental health and finds it distinctly lacking, leading to a discussion of why mad women are different from mad men in the movies. Much of Neil Marshall's The Descent (2005) have a profoundly hallucinatory quality. Sarah's journey follows a trajectory more commonly seen in LSD experiments than run-of-the-mill caving expeditions, while the use of differently coloured lights to distinguish one character from another when they are split up in the cave bathes the film's events in an unrealistic, numinous glow. The film's themes also tend towards a sense that this is some kind of interior phantasy, particularly the idea of guilt, which characterises Sarah's actions almost from the beginning of the film. Related to this sense of guilt are indications within the film that Sarah should be identified with the crawlers. This sense that attacker and attacked represent the same person is one familiar to us through nightmares.

Keywords:   mental health, mad women, mad men, Neil Marshall, The Descent, hallucination, caving expeditions, guilt, nightmares

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