I don’t care if Rosario Dawson is your favorite actress or if you think she is the greatest actress in the history of stage and screen. I will hardly ever be this vehement on this website, but DO NOT WATCH Descent. You can, by all means, watch The Descent, but for the sake of all that is good and holy, DO NOT WATCH Descent. I am a huge Rosario Dawson fan, but even my affinity for her could not convince me that it is not one of the worst films ever made…if not THE worst.
Descent, written and directed by Talia Lugacy, tells the story of Maya (Dawson) a beautiful college student with a seemingly bright future. That is, until she goes on a date with Jared (Chad Faust), the biggest loser in the history of film. Lugacy ruins the willing suspension of disbelief by having Maya go on a date with this low-life in the first place. Nevertheless, Maya does and is unfortunately date raped. Obviously, this sends her into a pit of despair that she medicates through clubbing, drinking, and druigging. Here, she meets Adrian (Marcus Patrick), who will play a key role later in the film.
Apparently renewed by the nightlife, Maya resumes her studies and takes a TA position in which Jared returns as one of her students. She seduces him to her apartment where she sweet talks him, blindfolds him, and chains him, arms and legs. to the bed…naked. She then proceeds to brutally taunt and rape him. Not content or confident in her own powers, she employs Adrian to help her, not finish, but continue the job. Lugacy concludes the film with this almsot ten minute long rape scene.
While both of the rape scenes in Descent aren’t overtly explicit, no nudity or graphic shots, they are disturbing, obviously, for a number of reasons, particularly the second one. Rape is obviously an unspeakable sin that results in and perhaps from great trauma. It is a sin of violence and power. Yet rather than rising above this sin and cycle of violence, Lugacy falls victim to it, like her characters. Rather than considering a more imaginative response to Jared’s sin to effect justice, Maya simply returns the favor, ten-fold. Lugacy’s cinematic treatise on revenge fails miserably when compared to predecessors like The Searchers or The Three Burials of Melquiades Estrada. One might argue that her focus was on rape; however, if so, she betrays it and dishonors rape victims and violators by focusing on Maya crying at the end of the film when she realizes that her quest for and “attainment” of revenge has left her even more hollow and hurt than before.
Descent is a miserable wreck of a film with absolutely no redeeming qualities in direction (plodding), cinematography (absurd), or acting (why, Rosario, why?).
I shouldn’t even tell you that Descent (100 mins) is rated NC-17 for language and brutal rape scenes and is available on DVD.