The Descent

2006

The Descent

Critics Consensus

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

85%

TOMATOMETER

Total Count: 175

75%

Audience Score

User Ratings: 207,232
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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 Sarah's accident. Along with two old friends and a new acquaintance of Juno's, the group embark on a cave expedition that takes a turn for the worse after a rock fall leaves them stranded in an uncharted cave with no map and only a handful of supplies to last them the rest of the trip. As tensions arise in the group, they are faced with another danger -- one whose love of the dark is as strong as its lust for blood. Opening to rave reviews in the U.K. in July of 2005, the creature-feature went on to show at the Venice Film Festival and garnered the top prize for Euro feature at Sweden's Fantastic Film Festival. The Descent was picked up for future U.S. distribution by Lion's Gate, whose work was cut out for them considering the tame opening of the similarly-themed stateside production of The Cave in late-August of the same year. ~ Jeremy Wheeler, Rovi

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Critic Reviews for The Descent

All Critics (175) | Top Critics (38)

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

    Oct 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.

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

    Nov 24, 2006 | Rating: 3.5/5 | Full Review…
  • The Descent sustains a level of intensity that most horror films can barely muster for five minutes.

    Aug 5, 2006 | Rating: B+

    Scott Tobias

    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.

    Aug 4, 2006 | Rating: 2/4 | Full Review…

    Claudia Puig

    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.

    Aug 4, 2006 | Rating: 2.5/4 | Full Review…

Audience Reviews for The Descent

  • 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
  • Feb 07, 2013
    Like naked mole rats, hairless humanoids live deep in the caves and feed on the unfortunate that venture down there. Very creative and genuinely spooky!
    John B Super Reviewer

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