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Descent (2007)



Average Rating: 4.9/10
Reviews Counted: 33
Fresh: 12 | Rotten: 21

Descent has the potential to make a statement about sexual violence, but falls flat by focusing on revenge rather than Rosario Dawson's emotional state.


Average Rating: 5/10
Critic Reviews: 14
Fresh: 6 | Rotten: 8

Descent has the potential to make a statement about sexual violence, but falls flat by focusing on revenge rather than Rosario Dawson's emotional state.



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Average Rating: 2.8/5
User Ratings: 4,196

My Rating

Movie Info

An act of violence throws a young woman's life into disarray in this independent drama, the first feature from director Talia Lugacy. Maya (Rosario Dawson) is a bright and ambitious college student who tries to balance a social life with her busy academic schedule. One night, Maya and some friends attend a house party largely populated by drunken frat boys. Maya is appalled by their uncouth behavior and disrespect for the female guests, and when a guy named Jared (Chad Faust) bluntly hits on

Feb 5, 2008

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All Critics (35) | Top Critics (14) | Fresh (12) | Rotten (21) | DVD (7)

It's been a while since we saw a demagogic feminist exploitation revenge drama, and Descent, while top-heavy with 'agenda,' is shrewdly done.

August 15, 2007 Full Review Source: Entertainment Weekly
Entertainment Weekly
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Look-at-me-I'm-a-filmmaker photography, pacing that has all the thrills of waiting in line at the post office and an utterly predictable plot combine to make the movie even worse than the hacky chick revenge fantasy now showing on channel 186 of your box.

August 10, 2007 Full Review Source: New York Post
New York Post
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No moviegoer has done anything to deserve the images that director Talia Lugacy would throw in their face.

August 10, 2007 Full Review Source: New York Daily News
New York Daily News
Top Critic IconTop Critic

[Dramatizes] the experience and the psychological aftermath of rape with a vividness I've never seen in an American film.

August 10, 2007
New York Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's indie provocation trapped between shock and blah.

August 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Los Angeles Times
Los Angeles Times
Top Critic IconTop Critic

It's a lot like a '70s exploitation movie, with its determination to seduce and shock the viewer with alternating currents of electrical stimulus, and its weird combination of arty arch-decadence and neo-Victorian moralizing.

August 9, 2007 Full Review Source:
Top Critic IconTop Critic

Revenge is less than sweet, to say the least, in particular for the audience, veering between sickening and pathetically pornographic.

November 11, 2007 Full Review Source: NewsBlaze

Dawson, armed not with a whole lot of dialogue but her endlessly eloquent face, makes each note of the character's journey pierce, whether with pain or ecstasy.

August 19, 2007 Full Review Source:

Sludgy and slack [...] pointlessly vague and abstruse.

August 15, 2007 Full Review Source: Film Journal International
Film Journal International

Though a clearly gifted new filmmaker, Lugacy doesn't get a handle on the combustible material, and she gets scalded in the process.

August 14, 2007 Full Review Source: AV Club
AV Club

Ugliness of story, character and technique cannot hold a movie audience and do more harm than good towards seeking a professed corrective.

August 12, 2007 Full Review Source: ReelTalk Movie Reviews
ReelTalk Movie Reviews

A hollow fabrication in the pursuit of someone's sick idea of redemption. I didn't pay to see it... but I want my wasted time back.

August 11, 2007 Full Review Source: Cinema Signals
Cinema Signals

There's too much arty writhing and too little concrete character development.

August 10, 2007 Full Review Source: TV Guide's Movie Guide
TV Guide's Movie Guide

Descent is the head-slappingly awful picture that turns rape into a comedy.

August 9, 2007 Full Review Source:

The movie is just a vicious, pathetic excuse for Lugacy to live out her own twisted hate-fantasies on the big screen.

August 9, 2007 Full Review Source:

"an exercise in human soullessness."

August 9, 2007 Full Review Source:

There's a potentially groundbreaking story lurking somewhere in Descent, but it stops at the revenge, thereby robbing us of what might have been a vitally important moviegoing experience.

August 9, 2007 Full Review Source: Aisle Seat
Aisle Seat

Apart from its obvious exploitation element and disjointed second act, the movie achieves a cool momentum by sheer force of the intimate power play that takes place over the course of a slow build-up toward its sex-schock finale.

August 9, 2007 Full Review Source:

Audience Reviews for Descent

After a brutal date rape, a woman discovers her sexual power and the need for revenge.
Dark in its subject matter and the complexion of the film, Descent whiles most of its 100 minutes in as many depressing and angering scenes one could imagine, and there's not a single moment of comic relief. There are multiple rape scenes in this film, each of which goes on longer than we're used to seeing. I understand that the point of the film may be realism, but there's a line between wallowing in the mire and effective dramatic presentation of horrid events, and Descent dove off the cliff of wallowing.
Also, I wonder about what the film is saying. Maya is raped, and in response, she discovers her ability to manipulate others using her sexuality. Does this suggest that a woman's sexual power is tantamount to "reverse rape?" Does the discovery of one's sexual power mark a "descent?" Whatever the concept behind freshman director Talia Lugacy's filmm is, it isn't clear and could be debated.
Jared is a douche from the beginning, and the elevated dialogue that Chad Faust and Rosario Dawson are forced to utter makes the dynamic even more unrealistic. Faust's performance is bad because he fails to find anything worth liking in Jared, and Dawson's performance is good because despite it all, she finds something that draws her character to him and she can somehow make the bad writing seem natural.
Overall, Descent is remarkably disturbing and dark, and that's all it is, a catalog of horrors with no redeeming through-line.
July 2, 2012
Jim Hunter

Super Reviewer

Plot Spoilers Necessarily Throughout This Review I saw this movie by accident, thinking I had downloaded "The Descent", the horror movie about creatures attacking a group of cave climbers/campers who are all college age girls. So even through, the first rape scene, I thought, this is just another crappy B horror movie trying to start off by being "edgy", so I kept watching through Dawson's character waking up in the dilapidated drug house, thinking to myself "yeah this is probably just a drama and if it is not, it's a tacky convention to parallel *this* parabolic descent story with some creature-killin-in-caves and her redeeming herself by killing creatures, so she better torture that lil football poofter". Problem is, I don't think this is that great of a performance from Dawson, just because you do a rape movie doesn't make your career. And the movie fails on its point, because call me fucked up, but I enjoyed the revenge rape scene. Yup I don't mind some stuck up jock getting his ass split and kind of liking it, so for me that totally washes out the scene of Dawson's character getting raped. Compare this film to "O Fantasma", a real art-house movie that also includes plotted homosexual rape, and you will see that "Descent" cannot compare when it comes to depicting a character sliding into an amoral and degraded existence, which is ultimately the point of this movie, not all the graphic rape bookending the fall, but those are really the only compelling moments, which is never good for a director to say, "well at least it's got good rape scenes". So sadly that means the whole middle of the movie could have been gutted, so next time this director wants to do an effective feature, they may want to consider a rewrite to make sure there is sufficient material to cover it, instead of duping me into watching a piece that is seventy minutes too long.

"So Fucked Up" highlight: using a bedpost to get the anal rape started; that I was aroused by the muscley latin guy revenge raping the frat twat
October 21, 2011

Super Reviewer

Yawn! Bloody dull and sicko R-rated drama I ever saw about the exact revenge of a date-raped co-ed. I couldn't stand and watch the final scene of co-ed's revenge upon her attacker.
December 29, 2008
Dean McKenna

Super Reviewer

Spoilers ahead. Rosario Dawson's performance is undeniably magnificent in Descent - comparisons to Hilary Swank in Boys Don't Cry and Robert DeNiro in Taxi Driver perhaps overstating it a little, but still exceptionally good. Talia Lugacy's direction is fairly strong, and there's some inventive techniques and experimentation with color schemes and shutter speeds that give the film a dreamlike/drunk feeling that works surprisingly well. Little else does, however. A rape revenge tale that tries to skewer things in a 'shocking' finale, but to be honest, the anal rape of Jared was a little ridiculous and - I know this is going to make me sound totally disturbed - the way it was set up and filmed made it a bit... erotic. Ahem. Besides which, I totally do not buy that Maya would fall for Jared at the beginning - she's supposed to be an intelligent young woman (studying PSYCHOLOGY for fuckssake), yet doesn't see the obvious the call is coming from inside the house type warnings; Jared is clearly a scummy, cringey douche. There's also two scenes that thoroughly pissed me off - the first has Jared being bullied in the locker-room - it's a heavy handed way of saying 'this is why Jared is fucked up' and it's skin-crawlingly terrible. The second has Jared leaving an identical next-date follow-up message on, presumably, a second potential victim's answerphone; word-for-word the same as that left on Maya's phone earlier in the film. Descent simply did not need this scene - I found it completely patronising and it's intent is obvious and contrived, much like the whole film, really.
May 3, 2009

Super Reviewer

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