The Descent is a 2005 British horror movie that Neil Marshall both wrote and directed. It follows a group of six women who go on a caving passage and become trapped underground. As they try to find a way out, they discover the delve is inhabited by creatures who hunt them for their meat.
The Story Begins
The film opens with Sarah, Juno, and Beth going white-water rafting. After an accident that leaves Sarah devastated, one time passes. Sarah is now ready to start exploring grottoes again.
Juno assembles a- womanish platoon for a caving passage including Sarah, Beth, Sam, Rebecca, and Holly. The group heads to the remote Appalachian Mountains in the USA to explore an unknown delve system.
As the women descend into the cave, they encounter a tunnel collapse that blocks their way out. The group presses on, hoping to find another exit. Strange cave paintings and bone arranged in ritualistic designs foreshadow supernatural evil.
Things take a terrifying turn when the women discover they are not alone underground. Savage humanoid creatures stalk the group to hunt them for their flesh. A terrifying game of cat and mouse ensues as the women try to escape the monstrous creatures.
Fighting To Survive
Trapped in the darkness with savage predators, the women become increasingly panicked and turn on each other. The claustrophobic setting descends into madness as the women’s fragile loyalties shatter and primal survival instincts take over.
Sarah finds herself struggling with her sanity as she is plagued by nightmarish visions. She alone must find the strength to lead the group to safety while battling the cave creatures. In this place deep underground, the women must fight to survive and make it out alive.
Why It’s Significant
The Descent received high praise from critics and is considered one of the best horror films of the 2000s. It was lauded for its tense atmosphere, strong female leads, and return to serious monster horror.
Box Office Success
On a modest budget of $3.5 million, The Descent grossed over $57 million worldwide. It was highly profitable, making back its budget 16 times over.
Impact On The Genre
The Descent is credited with revitalizing the monster horror genre in the 2000s. It used its creatures effectively by keeping them hidden and only briefly glimpsed. This added to the suspense and horror.
Many subsequent horror films copied this formula of implied and fleeting monster appearances to heighten fear. The Descent helped inspire a new wave of monster horror films.
Why It Stands Out
The tight, enclosed caves create a claustrophobic, tense atmosphere. The setting reflects the declining mental states of the women as they descend into primal madness. This unique location adds to the horror.
Strong Female Leads
Having an all-female ensemble lead cast was rare for a horror film at the time. The women are written as complex characters with depth beyond stereotypes.
While mostly kept in the shadows, the cave creatures have an unnerving, savage design when briefly shown. Their feral physicality and movements make them a genuinely frightening threat.
The Descent has become a horror classic and was highly influential on the genre. Its use of unknown threats in a creepy setting has inspired many other films over the past 15 years. It remains terrifying and suspenseful viewing for horror fans.