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The Descent (2006)


Average Rating: 7.3/10
Reviews Counted: 171
Fresh: 145
Rotten: 26

Critics Consensus: Deft direction and strong performances from its all-female cast guide The Descent, a riveting, claustrophobic horror film. In this low-budget import from Scotland, director Neil Marshall has masterfully created a spelunking nightmare, which doubles as a compelling meditation on morality, vengeance, and the depths to which we might go for survival.

Average Rating: 6.9/10
Reviews Counted: 35
Fresh: 26
Rotten: 9

Critics Consensus: Deft direction and strong performances from its all-female cast guide The Descent, a riveting, claustrophobic horror film. In this low-budget import from Scotland, director Neil Marshall has masterfully created a spelunking nightmare, which doubles as a compelling meditation on morality, vengeance, and the depths to which we might go for survival.


Average Rating: 3.4/5
User Ratings: 204,845


Movie Info

A group of close female friends on a yearly adventure vacation find themselves trapped and hunted in a series of caves by an unknown force that lurks in the shadows in The Descent, the second horror feature from Dog Soldiers writer/director Neil Marshall. After suffering a devastating car crash one year before, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) is lured to the States with her friend Beth (Alex Reid) to a special spelunking trip by the fearless Juno (Natalie Mendoza), who abruptly fled from the U.K. after … More

R (for strong violence/gore and language)
Directed By:
Written By:
Neil Marshall
In Theaters:
Dec 26, 2006
Box Office:
Lionsgate - Official Site


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Critic Reviews for The Descent

All Critics (171) | Top Critics (35) | Fresh (145) | Rotten (26) | DVD (21)

Marshall could very well be the Caravaggio of the B-movie.

Full Review… | October 15, 2008
TIME Magazine
Top Critic

This intermittently effective UK horror thriller carefully establishes the psychological relationships among the women, then squanders this calibrated and generally plausible setup with a series of crude, implausible, and scattershot horror effects.

Full Review… | September 24, 2007
Chicago Reader
Top Critic

The Descent sustains a level of intensity that most horror films can barely muster for five minutes.

Full Review… | August 5, 2006
AV Club
Top Critic

For my money, [the] first 20 or so minutes are the best in the film. Once the real adventure gets underway in the cave, things get less interesting.

Full Review… | August 4, 2006
USA Today
Top Critic

While the movie has wonderful moments of unmotivated tension that make sure we're quite ill at ease from the beginning, it's also got a few too many of the kind of cheap boo-scares that indicate a director not fully trusting his grip on you.

Full Review… | August 4, 2006
Toronto Star
Top Critic

Tight shots of women desperately wriggling through worm holes or teetering on a ledge overlooking an abyss create a claustrophobic effect, one that leaves the characters gasping for air and the audience breathing shallower.

Full Review… | August 4, 2006
Seattle Times
Top Critic

Here is a movie so precise and cautious with its material that every moment, every suggestion or action, becomes an experience that involves us to alarming lengths.

Full Review… | July 31, 2014

Super-scary and vicious, both psychologically and physically, this cleverly produced chill-ride is edgy British horror at its very best.

Full Review… | October 6, 2013
Radio Times

Tense, gory and masterfully malevolent.

Full Review… | October 10, 2012
Total Film

Although Neil Marshall's attempt to justify the U.S. ending is admirable, the original ending is the only way out - providing a chilling bookend to a motif and suggesting what seems like cerulean-tinged peace is actually the solitary solace of madness.

Full Review… | September 25, 2010

Director Marshall has obviously kept his DVD player spinning for days studying all of the classics and simply taking everything he needed like a Vanilla Ice "Under Pressure"

Full Review… | January 31, 2010

Blank screamers, fastidiously amplified "boos," and the most confused intimations of lesbianism since High Tension

Full Review… | August 30, 2009

The ensuing carnage is ample but not gratuitous; every arterial spray and bone crack makes a point.

Full Review… | April 23, 2009
Boston Phoenix

It's nasty, unpleasant and sadistic but brutally efficient and undeniably effective.

Full Review… | August 7, 2008
Sacramento News & Review

[Writer-director Neil] Marshall makes real movies, not just schlockfests designed to sate the lusts of gore-lovers (although there is plenty of gore, too).

Full Review… | July 14, 2008

Where the film exceeds 'Dog Soldiers' is toward the end, as Sarah comes to grips with what it will take to survive her ordeal and gets in touch with her feral side.

Full Review… | June 17, 2008

Six sexy spelunkers in an underground fright fest make for keen and claustrophobic cinema.

Full Review… | November 19, 2007

There are inconsistencies and frustrating ambiguities, but this is another reliable, vigorous horror experience for genre fans.

Full Review… | September 24, 2007

The Cave done right.

Full Review… | August 25, 2007

Once it gets going, it shakes you and keeps shaking you.

Full Review… | July 30, 2007

The Descent may not be a classic, but it's likely to remain with you for a while.

Full Review… | July 14, 2007
Big Picture Big Sound

It is to the film-maker's credit that these scenes are filled with real tension and edge-of-your-seat moments.

Full Review… | June 2, 2007
Three Movie Buffs

I would recommend seeing The Descent in the daytime, because the feeling of the sun on your flesh as you walk out of the theater will cheer you up in ways that you had heretofore never imagined. Seriously.

Full Review… | May 19, 2007

Offered powerful enough performances to keep me engaged throughout.

Full Review… | May 18, 2007
JoBlo's Movie Emporium

Audience Reviews for The Descent


Well done horror flick. Ive noticed a lot of the better thrillers are being made in other countries. Im so glad that these movies are getting shots to shine here in the US.

John Manard

Super Reviewer


A near-masterpiece of a horror film. One of the most terrifying and suspenseful movies I've sat through. It's a gory, messy, dirty, and bone-breaking movie that deserves to be seen. Most critics gave this a solid rating, but I feel this was an extraordinary movie. The score is brilliant as well, adding an "epic" feel to this...well, epic journey down in the caves of the Appalachian Mountains. The ending will leave you haunted for a while, definitely a movie that will stick with you. Every two or three years a great horror movie comes out. This is hands down the bet horror film from the 00's.

Dan Schultz
Dan Schultz

Super Reviewer



I think that Neil Marshall is one of the greatest horror directors working in the business today. I clearly remember when I first saw his debut feature Dog Soldiers a few years ago that I was left feeling terrified, but also laughing in my seat at it's hilarious black humour. His second feature, The Descent, is one of the most serious movies I've seen in a while, and that's saying something when you consider how horror movies have become a lot funnier than scarier in recent years. Having said that this is an absolutely brilliant film. The Descent started by petrifying me, giving of a wince inducing sense of claustrophobia and total isolation. But as it progresssed so skillfully treading into more disturbing and darker territory I was feeling more and more horrified. I love horror, it's undoubtedly one of my favourite film genres, but i've toughened up on them over a long period of time and not scared easily. However I was literally shaking after seeing this. It's also got everything a horror fan could possibly wish for. Director Neil Marshall clearly loves horror as much as we do, he brings together all elements of the genre, psychology, gore, monsters, kills, murkiness, and of course the "last girl." He offers countless bloodbaths throughout the flick and each scene is shot by Marshall carefully, with a beautiful visual style. Due to the compressed environment in which the plot is set, the film also uses it's imagination to bring on the scares rather than ending up becoming cheesy, then succumbing to the usual means of deaths in horror films. His script features incredibly realistic dialogue that truly aids you in investing your sympathies to the characters. In addition I found the cinematography eye popping and downright stunning, the acting compelling, and the crawlers in the caves constantly scary and creepily animated. To put it simply, The Descent get's weirder, bloodier and nastier after every twist and turn, leaving you right at the edge of your seat. Before unbeknownst to us throwing it's audience back into them again in complete fear. I just couldn't ask anything more from a horror film. It's outright demonic with just a slight pinch of feminism from it's all female cast, and quite easily the perfect fright flick for Halloween. Without contest it's one of my favourite horror films of all time, and eventually it will become a timeless British horror classic.

Directors Cat
Directors Cat

Super Reviewer

A bloody masterpiece. A bold, gory, intense and brilliant horror film that returns faith to a dying genre. Director, Neil Marshall crafts a breathtaking classic that is truly mind-blowing and unforgettable. A jaw-dropping and absolutely freightning film that stands with Aliens. It`s a raw, stylish and character driven piece. It`s packed with explosive scares and jolts. I havent enjyed a horror film this much in years.

Al S

Super Reviewer

The Descent Quotes

Sam, stop poking it with a fucking stick.
– Submitted by Cassidy F (24 months ago)
The queen is dead. Long live...the fucking queen!
– Submitted by Cassidy F (24 months ago)
What about you Holly, got a man?
Oh, I'm a sports fuck like Juno.
– Submitted by Jaymz S (2 years ago)
You put in a flight-plan, right? If we don't report in they'll come looking for us.
That's how it's supposed to work, except I put in a flight-plan for Boreham Caverns and this isn't Boreham Caverns, is it Juno?
We're in the wrong fucking cave!
Holly was right! Boreham Caverns was a tourist trap!
Don't try and pin this fucking shit on me!
This is not caving, this is an ego-trip.
– Submitted by Jaymz S (3 years ago)
What happened to you?
– Submitted by Jaymz S (3 years ago)
Sam's gonna be Doctor Van Ney in like a year's time.
Please tell me it's longer than that.
– Submitted by Jaymz S (3 years ago)

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