The Descent (2005)


Genre: Horror, Adventure

 Director: Neil Marshall

 Writer: Neil Marshall

 Staring: Shauna Mcdonald, Natalie Mendoza

 Rating: ★★★½

 Just like Danny Boyle’s 28 Days Later three years previous, The Descent is another British horror film that was both popular in the UK as well as the US producing an American sequel. Neil Marshall, director of Dog Soldiers this time takes on an all female cast that go caving and discover some more than unfriendly inhabitants. Providing thrills, jumps and shocks it truly lives up to its genre.

 The film follows the character of Sarah (Shauna Mcdonald) who has just recently lost her husband and daughter in a horrific accident shown at the beginning of the film. Despite no longer being in the stage of grieving Sarah is obviously still suffering from her loss but however agrees to go on a routine caving trip with her friends to Boreham Caverns. The narrative has a side plot and a in group protagonist of Juno (Natalie Mendoza) after it becomes obvious she was having an affair with Sarah’s late husband. Juno, who’s planned this caving trip decides against the tourist options and take the girls to an unknown cave in the hope of them being the first to discover it but all this is unknown and a surprise to the girls. 

When in the unknown cave system things start to go wrong and their entrance and possibly only exit becomes blocked, eventually a worried panicky Juno tells the group the truth. However they’re still far from knowing what they are getting themselves into, the cave is home to hundreds of blood thirsty monsters. These “crawlers” are fast, clever and hunt in packs for flesh and the group become top of their menu. Being hunted the group must try to escape the cave, however Sarah has other things on her mind as she sets of for revenge on Juno. The rest of film fuels on tense chase scenes, providing many jumps and scares. It also focuses on the transformation of Sarah and how troubled she really becomes, from visions of her dead daughter to extreme acts of violence.

The Descent is a very different and unique horror, for starters its all female cast is something we don’t often see and it strays from the stereotype. The “crawlers” are a new take on a monster, they however provide blood, guts and gore as they hunt the group down, creating just what we expect. The setting is also something new, however despite this innovation as a viewer you still get what you came to see, and that’s a thrilling, gore-filled horror. The acting despite not standing out is good and is something you come to expect nowadays, although Shauna Mcdonalds performance as Sarah is worth a mention. For me the editing and the graphics of the “crawlers” is something that deserves credit, they are realistic but at the same time horrifying and will really stay in your mind. The sound used also creates suspense moments, although mostly its natural diegetic score when long silences and stings are used its effective and well timed so be prepared to jump.

Neil Marshall definitely represented the British horror industry positively once again as The Descent is a great horror and its no surprise the Americans made a sequel. A film that’s somewhat discredited and underrated but for me it’s one to watch, a film very much accurate to its genre and good for a dark night.