The Descent Reviews

Top Critic
Sarah Lilleyman
TIME Magazine
October 15, 2008
Marshall could very well be the Caravaggio of the B-movie.
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Jonathan Rosenbaum
Chicago Reader
September 24, 2007
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.
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Scott Tobias
AV Club
August 5, 2006
The Descent sustains a level of intensity that most horror films can barely muster for five minutes.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Claudia Puig
USA Today
August 4, 2006
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 | Original Score: 2/4
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Geoff Pevere
Toronto Star
August 4, 2006
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 | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Judy Chia Hui Hsu
Seattle Times
August 4, 2006
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 | Original Score: 3/4
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Peter Hartlaub
San Francisco Chronicle
August 4, 2006
Do we even need men in horror films any more? They're bound to do something stupid, they almost always get killed in the end and don't look as good covered in sweat and blood.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Peter Travers
Rolling Stone
August 4, 2006
Prepare to be scared senseless, and then, when you think you have it figured, your certainty will be shaken by scenes built to scare you even more.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Roger Moore
Orlando Sentinel
August 4, 2006
This grueling trapped-in-a-cave-with-boogey-men movie is a solid thriller, and a terrific horror experience.
Full Review | Original Score: 4/5
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Stephen Whitty
Newark Star-Ledger
August 4, 2006
Every theater should come with a sign: Your expectations must be this low to ride.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Lou Lumenick
New York Post
August 4, 2006
Working on terrific sets with imaginative lighting effects and cinematography, Marshall creates a palpable sense of claustrophobia and danger well before murderous cave dwellers make their appearance quite a ways into the movie.
| Original Score: 3/4
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Jack Mathews
New York Daily News
August 4, 2006
This is one of the scariest movies featuring female heroines since the Alien series.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Rene Rodriguez
Miami Herald
August 4, 2006
The movie is also spooky and atmospheric, has at least three great jolts and an equal number of memorable gross-outs, including what has to be the goriest and most protracted eye-gouging of the year.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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Scott Foundas
L.A. Weekly
August 4, 2006
The movie devolves into a conventional man-versus-nature pursuit, further marred by performances just this side of a high-toned porno and the frequently irrational behavior of its characters.
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Bruce Westbrook
Houston Chronicle
August 4, 2006
The Descent seems less about female empowerment than female misery. One wonders if Marshall has issues. No males suffer here, just women who, even if they survive, won't ever be the same again.
Full Review | Original Score: 2/4
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Rick Groen
Globe and Mail
August 4, 2006
The film redeems itself through the denouement, building on that initial psychological foundation to hint disturbingly at a metaphoric struggle with interior demons.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Tom Long
Detroit News
August 4, 2006
The Descent is a sharp hammer to the head and a claw to the gut, a blood-drenched creep show that wants to eat you alive. Beware, and bon appetit.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
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Robert Denerstein
Denver Rocky Mountain News
August 4, 2006
The Descent was better when the women were battling nature and their own demons rather than monsters capable of crawling across ceilings.
| Original Score: C+
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Wesley Morris
Boston Globe
August 4, 2006
A cult classic is born.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Bill Muller
Arizona Republic
August 4, 2006
Sorry, George Lucas, but CGI creatures usually look pretty fake; the crawlers, however, are quite realistic and creepy, especially as they skitter over the walls and roofs of the caves.
Full Review | Original Score: 3.5/4
Top Critic
John Monaghan
Detroit Free Press
August 3, 2006
You genuinely care about the six women who enter a cave in the Appalachian mountains, only to discover it crawling with flesh-eating predators who have adapted to life in the dark.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Derek Elley
Variety
August 3, 2006
An object lesson in making a tightly-budgeted, no-star horror pic work through razor-sharp technique and committed performances alone.
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Manohla Dargis
New York Times
August 3, 2006
The babes are buff and the scares bountiful in Neil Marshall's full-throttle horror freakout about six women on a caving expedition.
| Original Score: 4/5
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Colin Covert
Minneapolis Star Tribune
August 3, 2006
It plays every emotional key of fright and despair with the skill of a concertmaster at a cathedral organ.
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Michael Rechtshaffen
Hollywood Reporter
August 3, 2006
[Marshall] expertly maps out those raw nerve endings while creating credible characters who speak and act like real people rather than the usual horror archetypes.
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Stephen Hunter
Washington Post
August 3, 2006
[Marshall] does have a nice taste for horror imagery: The first glimpse of one of the creatures, as debased and revolting and craven as a living thing could be, will stay with you a long time.
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Tirdad Derakhshani
Philadelphia Inquirer
August 3, 2006
One Aliens reference in this film had me welling up: A blood-soaked Sarah raises her torch, Sigourney Weaver-like, and lets out a banshee war cry.
| Original Score: 3/4
Top Critic
Michael Wilmington
Chicago Tribune
August 3, 2006
The Descent is simply a shock-'em, shake-'em genre piece with scare scenes that, however effective, suggest cheap-shop versions of a lot we've seen before.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
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David Germain
Associated Press
August 3, 2006
The movie's thrill-and-chill sequences are nasty and suspenseful, though once the creatures start to attack, the scenes get repetitive.
Full Review | Original Score: 2.5/4
Top Critic
August 3, 2006
The Descent doesn't need to exist: a script that goes beyond outlandish. Actors who'd flunk out of Make Believe 101. Blind creatures that see things. Did we mention continuity?
Full Review | Original Score: 1/4
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Steve Murray
Atlanta Journal-Constitution
August 3, 2006
Marshall understands that sometimes there's nothing quite as oddly exhilarating as the bleakest, no-way-out kind of horror.
Full Review | Original Score: B+
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Lisa Schwarzbaum
Entertainment Weekly
August 2, 2006
Made with a connoisseur's love of muck, blood, inky darkness, and equal parts elegance and ewwww, The Descent raises the level of the post-Blair Witch, post-Open Water horror game.
Full Review | Original Score: A-
Top Critic
Rob Nelson
Village Voice
August 2, 2006
Not since John Sayles and Joe Dante unleashed Piranha and The Howling on Hollywood's New Morning have two features torn open the horror movie with the cut-rate ferocity and gleeful disreputability of [Neil] Marshall's Dog Soldiers and The Descent.
Top Critic
James Berardinelli
ReelViews
August 1, 2006
For horror fans and those who love things that go bump in the night, this is one not to miss.
Full Review | Original Score: 3/4
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Time Out
July 7, 2005
Thanks to its skilful director, well-cast actors and talented technical team, this fiercely entertaining British horror movie has blood, guts and brains.