The Descent (2005)

the descent poster 2005 movie
8.0 Overall Score
Story: 8/10
Acting: 8/10
Visuals: 8/10

Creepy creatures combined with good story

High point near the beginning cuts down the fear near the end

Movie Info

Movie Name: The Descent

Studio: Celador Films

Genre(s): Horror

Release Date(s): March 11, 2005 (Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival)/July 8, 2005 (UK)/August 4, 2006 (US)

MPAA Rating: R

the descent cave in shauna macdonald

No matter what happens…nothing is more terrifying than this

Sarah Carter (Shauna Macdonald) has suffered a tragedy.  Now a year later, Sarah and her friends Beth O’Brien (Alex Reid), Sam Vernet (MyAnna Buring), Rebecca Vernet (Saskia Mulder), Holly Mills (Nora-Jane Noone), and Juno Kaplan (Natalie Mendoza) have met up to go on a caving adventure in Appalachia to try to put the past behind them.  Entering a cave system, a collapse means the way in is no longer the way out and the group must brave the unexplored caves in the hope of reaching the surface.  Something is living in the caves.  Something that no one has ever seen…they are hungry.

Written and directed by Neil Marshall, The Descent is a British horror man-vs-nature movie.  The film premiered at the Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival in Belgium and received positive reviews from critics.  The movie has gained a cult audience since its release.

I remember The Descent came out not long after another “underground” movie called The Cave.  While The Cave was maligned, The Descent was praised…I remember being pleasantly surprised by how good and original the movie felt.  Due to the film’s path, a ******spoiler alert****** exists for the rest of the review.

the descent underground creatures

Rat…Bat? Whatever it is, it’s hungry.

It would be great to go into The Descent blind.  The movie starts out as an adventure-survival movie and turns into a grueling monster film.  The switch-up leaves the characters not only trying to escape the darkness, but facing off against something never seen.  This is wrapped in a story of Sarah who is trying to come back from the tragic accident that killed her husband and child…but instead of being a tale of redemption, it turns into a tale of revenge.  That revenge aspect of the story is the only debatable part.  While Sarah’s survival is key, it kind of feels that she sacrifices her humanity by turning on Juno instead of forgiving her.

The cast is young and relatively unknown (at the time of the release I only recognized Nora-Jane Noone who previously appeared in The Magdalene Sisters).  Despite having a lot of characters of different backgrounds, the movie largely becomes a power struggle between Shauna Macdonald and Natalie Mendoza who do a decent job holding the film.  Unfortunately, this is at the sake of the other characters who do not have much development.

the descent sarah ending shauna macdonald

The Hills Are Alive with the Sound of Music!!!

The movie is set in Appalachia but was shot entirely in Scotland.  The creature designs are pretty creepy and their role-out is terrifying as the women realize that they are being watched in the dark while capturing a few quick glimpses of them before being confronted.  Despite having great, horrifying monsters, the film’s horror peaks near the beginning in a terrifying, claustrophobic collapse which is scarier than any monster that can be created.

The Descent is a great horror movie with a character as the title implies descends into madness in a situation that is unnerving on multiple levels.  The movie was shot with two endings…The UK ending is a bit darker with Sarah definitely not escaping with the US ending being a little more ambiguous.  Neither ending really ties in to the misfired sequel The Descent:  Part 2 which was released in 2009 which featured the return of Shauna Macdonald and Natalie Mendoza.

Related Links:

The Descent:  Part 2 (2009)

Author: JPRoscoe View all posts by
Follow me on Twitter/Instagram/Letterboxd @JPRoscoe76! Loves all things pop-culture especially if it has a bit of a counter-culture twist. Plays video games (basically from the start when a neighbor brought home an Atari 2600), comic loving (for almost 30 years), and a true critic of movies. Enjoys the art house but also isn't afraid to let in one or two popular movies at the same time.

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