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Deft direction and strong performances from its all-female cast guide The Descent, a riveting, claustrophobic horror film. Read critic reviews

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Movie Info

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: Underground predators inhabit the crevasses, and they have a taste for human flesh.

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Critic Reviews for The Descent

All Critics (183) | Top Critics (44) | Fresh (157) | Rotten (26)

  • While I think we should question the authority of the ubiquitous male writer-director to shape horror productions, I think Marshall does a good job representing his female characters.

    January 7, 2021 | Full Review…
  • Marshall could very well be the Caravaggio of the B-movie.

    October 15, 2008 | Full Review…
  • 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.

    September 24, 2007 | Full Review…
  • The film draws on some of horror's most memorable scenarios.

    November 24, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • ... The Descent may not be everything you've heard, but man, it's also a lot of things you haven't.

    August 6, 2006 | Rating: 3/5 | Full Review…
  • Can audiences weaned on the murky sadism of the Saw movies and the Hills Have Eyes remake even recognize what a truly scary movie looks and feels like?

    August 5, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/4

Audience Reviews for The Descent

  • Apr 09, 2021
    Do you ever watch a movie that is so fantastic and memorable that you continue to follow that director's work and either he/she starts producing absolute shite or drops off the map? No, I'm not talking about M. Night Shyamalan, I'm referring to writer/director Neill Marshall, and I'm whining about this because he wrote and directed one of the best horror movies of all time, The Descent, and nothing he has done since matches this masterpiece. Refreshingly made with a great all-female cast of mostly strong characters instead of the stereotypical "scream queens" or stupid college kids, this claustrophobic and relentless descent (no pun intended) into both real-life and creature-feature horror is just fabulous. There is enough build-up to make you care about their relationships, strained or not, so that when the shit hits the fan, and boy does it do that in a blood-soaked frenzy, we are emotionally invested by the time bad things start happening. SPOILER I was shocked to learn while researching this movie that it was not shot in an actual cave but on a set they made in Pinewood Studios. I looked at the movie with a new eye and for the life of me I couldn't tell the difference.
    Mark B Super Reviewer
  • Dec 11, 2017
    A staple of fantastic modern British horror, the Descent relies on two things to terrify it's audience; the bolstering and passionate performances of the all-female cast who present genuine and relateable characters and also the steady direction of Neil Marshall who magically manages to make a potholing tunnel in an underground network of caves seem even more claustrophobic and tiny than it actually is. The pacing of the film is incredible, with shocks and frights occurring when you least expect them, suggesting the ideas behind the film are creative and committed. Macdonald and Mendoza lead in matters of quality of performance, yet all of the actors are fantastic. The creatures that reside in the cave are merely coincidental as the real horror comes from the girls' having to face their own demons and more horrifyingly, each other and the darkness that seems to get darker and darker until it eventually envelopes them completely. The Descent can easily swear you off any extreme sports for life, particularly spelunking or potholing. The horror is both psychologically biting and physically strong in the Descent.
    Harry W Super Reviewer
  • Oct 27, 2017
    Pretty good and well acted, It had a few little jumps but the main horror comes from the claustrophobia and and weird creatures chasing you and it can get very gripping, It had a good ending but it never really tried anything particularly new.
    Jamie C Super Reviewer
  • Nov 25, 2013
    In the follow up to his debut Dog Soldiers, Neil Marshall brings out a very different film, The Descent. Following a group of all female cavers into a crazy underground world, where they encounter The Crawlers (above) humans who have evolved in the cave, that are intent on nomming the girls. What I have to say first about this movie, is that The Crawlers are only half the bad here, claustrophobia is the other. When a film makes me feel even the slightest bit afraid, it's worth making a big deal of, as I could probably count these events on one hand. The Crawlers get some the best shock-scares I've ever seen, sure, but it's the cave itself that really effected me. Craig Conway (Dog Soldiers, Doomsday, Terry Pratchett's Hogfather) plays the main Creeper (dubbed Scar), and he just unleashes the role upon the audience, he is incredible, as always. Though he has no lines, and not much screen time, he manages to own the film with what he has. Demonstrating his mastery of suspense and build up, Neil Marshall does a fantastic job of building you up and knocking you down. Though there was a few cave type movies that came out at the time (The Cave, The Cavern, Catacombs) Marshall's film stood out in leaps and bounds above the others. What I don't love is how pointlessly this film was set in America. Seriously, it's pretty much an all UK cast, with a British director, filming in a British style, a very British horror. Honestly the first couple of times around watching this I didn't even notice that they magically teleported to the states. Also the American version of this film has a different ending, personally I feel happy endings are a cheap cop-out, so I much prefer the other regions, which thankfully we get. Again I apologise for the weakness of this review, I was actually really fucking stoked with the first one I wrote. Grrrr. Such is life I guess. -Gimly
    Gimly M Super Reviewer

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