It's been a while since we've heard anything about the promised sequel to Neil Marshall's The Descent, and fans of the film who rolled their eyes at the initial announcement may have gotten their hopes up. But no: the sequel is still going forward with Descent editor Jon Harris making his directorial debut, and James Watkins (My Little Eye), who had nothing to do with the first film, writing the screenplay. The new info is that Shauna McDonald and Natalie Mendoza, who played protagonists Sarah and Juno, will reprise their roles in the sequel. The cast will also have some Y chromosomes this time around, in the form of Gavan O'Herlihy, Joshua Dallas and Douglas Hodge.
The plot will involve "the survivor" -- that would be Sarah -- "forced back into the system of caves she battled her way out of in the first film, in a bid to locate the rest of her group." Shockingly, this probably means that the sequel will take the American "Lionsgate ending" (in which Sarah gets out) as canon, rather than the original ending, where Sarah's escape is a dream sequence and the final shot shows her remaining in the cave. I suppose this could be explained to overseas viewers (who were, after all, responsible for more than half of the first film's $57 million box-office) by claiming that she got out later, in some other way. But it'll be tough.
The plot description and return of Natalie Mendoza raise another question: in The Descent, Marshall strongly implied that after Sarah crippled Juno (take that, you home-wrecking whore), Juno was left to die at the hands of the cave-dwelling mutant villains. Barring some complicated (and pretty much inconceivable) flashback device, Mendoza's return means that Juno (and others) survived, however improbably. That's going to be tough too.
The Descent was the first movie since I was a pre-teen to actually make me scream out loud in the middle of a crowded theater -- no mean feat given how desensitized I am by hundreds of movies a year. I'm a huge supporter of Marshall's film; there was a time after I saw it, at the Philadelphia Film Festival two years ago, when I'd try to pimp it to everyone and anyone who wanted to talk movies. It's one of my favorite pieces of modern horror. So, in a dissonant reaction typical of a fan faced with the prospect of a sequel to a beloved movie, I'm excited and anxious at the same time. Neil Marshall's oversight is somewhat reassuring, even if I didn't think Doomsday was all that.