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“The Descent.”

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"As long as it's not on mine."
There are three forces terrorizing the women of the deeply (hyuck) satisfying UK horror film "The Descent" — the crumbling caves in which they’re trapped, the sightless, flesh-eating monsters who happen to live there, and each other. And as much as the personal dramas will likely infuriate anyone hoping for a straightforward display of gore, they’re also our favorite aspect of the film: Finally, a flick for the frenemies in the audience! Sarah (Shauna Macdonald), Beth (Alex Reid) and Juno (Natalie Mendoza) are old extreme sports buddies who gather with three other friends for a caving expedition that’s also a chance for Sarah to prove her resilience — she’s still fragile from losing her husband and daughter in an accident the year before, a horrifying scene director Neil Marshall uses to open the film with economic effectiveness.

As odd as it sounds, a pervasive sense of economy is the strongest aspect of the film. Made on a relatively lean budget of around $6.5 million, with no big names stars and no swing for flashy special effects, "The Descent" gets by on sheer filmmaking craft. Long before they discover they’re not alone in the caves, the women are clearly uncomfortably not in their element. Creeping through passages narrow enough to bring out anyone’s lurking inner claustrophobe, peering into darkness their flashlights can scarcely make a dent in — they’re not headed anywhere humans were meant to, particularly once a cave-in leaves them with no route except to climb further down, hoping to come across another exit. When the monsters (they’re kind of cave people who’ve evolved to live in the dark) finally arrive (in one of the best reveals we can remember — a scene that makes startling use of the night-vision lens on a camcorder), it’s somewhat disappointing. Monsters, no matter how well done, are familiar territory. Climbing hopelessly deeper into the bowels of the earth — now that’s fucking creepy.

Only the initial three women are more than lightly sketched out, and even then, it’s only Sarah and Juno who are fully-conceived human beings — Macdonald’s Sarah as a shadow of her former, clearly formidable self, whose inevitable self-discovery moment is invigoratingly grim, and Mendoza’s Juno, who’s somewhere between larger-than-life earth goddess and egotistical psycho. But kudos to Marshall for tackling a type of relationship rarely put on screen — that long-term friendship from which most genuine affection has eroded, leaving only the surprisingly sturdy ties of social obligation and shared history. If anything, the combined horrors of the film are a testament to how much it can take for two people to admit that maybe they haven’t been good friends to each other for a while now; that actually, they might sort of hate each other. It’s long in coming, and it’s hardly a feel-good moment, but it is satisfying: Take that, you bloody bitch.

["The Descent" is being released with in the US with a different ending than the UK theatrical version — having managed to see both, we can tell you that probably less than a minute has been lopped off the US release. The bleaker UK ending has a bit of "Brazil" to it.]

Opens wide August 4th.

+ "The Descent" (Lionsgate)

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The Best Of The Last

Portlandia Goes Out With A Bang

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The end is near. In mere days Portlandia wraps up its final season, and oh what a season it’s been. Lucky for you, you can watch the entire season right now right here and on the IFC app, including this free episode courtesy of Subaru.

But now, let’s take a moment to look back at some of the new classics Fred and Carrie have so thoughtfully bestowed upon us. (We’ll be looking back through tear-blurred eyes, but you do you.)

Couples Dinner

It’s not that being single sucks, it’s that you suck if you’re single.

Cancel it!

A sketch for anyone who has cancelled more appointments than they’ve kept. Which is everyone.

Forgotten America

This one’s a “Serial” killer…everything both right and wrong about true crime podcasts.

Wedding Planners

The only bad wedding is a boring wedding.

Disaster Hut

It’s only the end of the world if your doomsday kit doesn’t include rosé.

Catch up on Portlandia’s final episodes on demand and at

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Your Portlandia Personality Test

The New Portlandia Webseries Is Going Your Way

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Carrie and Fred understand that although we have so much in common, we’re each so beautifully unique and different. To help us navigate those differences, Portlandia has found an easy and honest way to embrace our special selves in the form of a progressive new traffic system: a specific lane for every kind of driver. It’s all in honor of the show’s 8th and final season, and it’s all presented by Subaru.

Ready to find out who you really are? Match your personality to a lane and hop on the expressway to self-understanding.

Lane 10: Trucks Piled With Junk

Your junk is falling out of your trunk. Shake a tail light, people — this lane is for you.

Lane 33: Twins

You’re like a Gemini, but waaaay more pedestrian. Maybe you and a friend just wear the same outfits a lot. Who cares, it’s just twinning enough to make you feel special.

Lane 27: Broken Windows

Bad luck follows you around and everyone knows it. Your proverbial seat is always damp from proverbial rain. Is this the universe telling you to swallow your pride? Yes.

Lane 69: Filthy Cars

You’re all about convenience. Getting your car washed while you drive is a no-brainer.

Lane 43: Newly Divorced Singles

It’s been a while since you’ve driven alone, and you don’t know the rules of the road anymore. What’s too fast? What’s too slow? Are you sending the right signals? Don’t worry, the breakdown lane is nearby if you need it.

Still can’t find a lane to match your personality? Check out all the videos here. And see the final season of Portlandia this spring on IFC.

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Last-Minute Holiday Gift Guide

Hits from the '80s are on repeat all Christmas Eve and Day on IFC.

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GIFs via Giphy, Photos via The Everett Collection

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