The Descent (2005)
June 21, 2022 5:12 PM - Subscribe

A year after a severe emotional trauma, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) goes to North Carolina to spend some time exploring caves with her friends; after descending underground, the women find strange cave paintings and evidence of an earlier expedition, then learn they are not alone.

Written and directed by Neil Marshall (Game of Thrones). Also starting Natalie Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Muldet, MyAnna Buring, and Nora-Jane Noone.

86% fresh on Rotten Tomatoes.

Currently streaming in the US on Peacock and available for digital rental on multiple outlets.
posted by DirtyOldTown (15 comments total) 5 users marked this as a favorite
 
This is a legitimately scary movie. Great story, solid all-female ensemble, and amazing production design (every cave is in Pinewood Studios!)

But dang, it's scary. Claustrophobia, body horror, monsters. Its tense as all hell.
posted by DirtyOldTown at 6:04 PM on June 21 [7 favorites]


It repays repeat viewings. An attentive viewer will see the creatures about a half-dozen times before the protagonists do.
posted by ricochet biscuit at 6:24 PM on June 21 [6 favorites]


I had very low expectations going into this years ago, but was impressed by the performances; it didn't hurt that the leads are attractive.
posted by porpoise at 6:30 PM on June 21


I was so glad I watched this at a friend’s recommendation. I was prepared to dismiss it as whatever the trailers made it look like, but my friend told me there was more to it than whatever other movie I dismissed it as.
It turned out to be not only the film that made me fall in love with horror movies all over again, but it also introduced me to the work of Neil Marshall.
posted by Mister Moofoo at 6:54 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


yeah, solid B horror film. maybe B+. loved the ending(s).
posted by j_curiouser at 11:30 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


A solid little horror film.

There are two versions of the ending - the UK one was considered "too dark" for US audiences, which is a shame because it's a much better ending. Not sure which version is out on streaming.
posted by rmd1023 at 11:48 PM on June 21 [1 favorite]


There is some very visceral physical horror (I had to turn it off at the leg scene first time), and the emotional pain is really well handled. And then there’s Beth….

I haven’t seen the sequel, which I gather is pretty weak.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:30 AM on June 22


Oooh this movie. One of the most effective horror movies I've seen, in part because the setting is able to ratchet up the tension pretty high before the monsters even show up.
posted by Ragged Richard at 7:55 AM on June 22 [3 favorites]


I gave up on this one after the emotional traumatic event that opens the film; it was so immediately apparent that the main character's husband and one of the women were having an affair that I felt like the movie was going to be pretty heavy handed in delivering its emotional beats. But it seems like everyone raves about it; was I too quick in making my judgment?
posted by nubs at 3:41 PM on June 22


was I too quick in making my judgment?

Yes? I struggled with it a bit, but it manages to deliver scares and character moments economically, making the slightly-long running time feel correct. The all-woman cast is very interesting, and the way their relationships develop under strain is well-handled. Especially considering that it emerged in the bro-horror desert of the early 2000s.
posted by GenjiandProust at 3:39 AM on June 23 [2 favorites]


I hate this movie.

Because it's so damn scary.

Very effective and the cave setting just makes it worse (for me) :)
posted by drewbage1847 at 1:47 PM on June 23 [1 favorite]


apparent that the main character's husband and one of the women were having an affair that I felt like the movie was going to be pretty heavy handed in delivering its emotional beats.

Hmmm. I'll put it this way - while the affair is relevant, especially later in the movie, it's not the focus. This is a "creature feature"/environment horror movie, not a "revenge" flick. So to me it was more like a thing that added complexity to the women's actions & reactions to and with each other once things start to go south.
posted by soundguy99 at 6:25 AM on June 24




I know spoilers are okay here, but I just want to say I'm so glad I knew nothing about this movie going in except whatever was on the poster. When the movie started, I had low-ish expectations that seemed justified for the initial beats of the movie and even into some of the initial scenes of peril in the caves. Then the tension slowly ratchets up, more and more, and THEN the monsters show up! omg. I had been totally lulled into the premise that it was just going to be a cavers-in-peril-from-natural-causes movie. Great movie. It totally got me. And not knowing about the cave dwellers was a definite plus.
posted by WhenInGnome at 4:59 PM on June 26


the cave setting just makes it worse (for me) :)

This film really scared me from the off, even before anything had really started to go wrong. At first I couldn't work it out, then it slowly dawned on me that it was the setting of the film which terrified me, more than the creatures tbh. I am only very mildly claustrophobic in daily life but the idea of being that far underground in narrow tunnels really put me.on edge.
posted by kumonoi at 5:23 PM on June 26


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