"The Descent (Devil's Advocates)" Book Review
Written by James Marriott
2013, 120 pages, Reference
Released on May 30th, 2013
Oh, how we are spoiled. As Arrow Video are putting out some truly incredible stuff with their Blu-ray genre re-releases, Auteur Publishing have the book market covered with their increasingly definitive Devil's Advocates line. I was never one for collecting Pokemon or football stickers, but I find myself taking a very “gotta catch 'em all” approach to these wonderful little books.
The latest publication is The Descent, which just so happens to concern one of my favourite British horror films of recent years and, indeed, all time. Neil Marshall's fantastic follow-up to Dog Soldiers is arguably the best thing to emerge from the noughties' 'splat pack' and, I'd go so far as to say, one of the best British horror films ever made. Thankfully, it is in fine hands with critic and scholar James Marriott on Devil's Advocacy duties. Alas, Marriott is no longer with us, but The Descent is a fine legacy (along with his 333 Films to Scare You to Death, co-written with Kim Newman) and an excellent book.
Like the other books in the series, its approach to discussing the film is through careful dissection and concise writing. There's a chapter of synopsis (thankfully much shorter than that of The Texas Chain Saw Massacre) followed by a look at Marshall's influences, characters, style and the film's context in the genre as a whole. Marriott's is perhaps the strongest book in the series, with a clear sense of structure, clarity and passion. There's even a little wit there, which is refreshing to see – too many film books read as dry and overly serious. The Witchfinder General book remains my favourite (simply because it caused me to re-visit a film I'd never really thought too much about) but The Descent is the best yet.
I've seen The Descent many more times than I can remember, and had assumed that those numerous previous viewings would be enough to see me through this book. Surely nothing could convince me to watch it again, so soon after the last time? Predictably, this was not the case.