The Descent (2005) – Review

In this stifling splash movie, director Neil Marshall wanted “something that could get the women, something human, but not quite”. Human but not quite are indeed the flesh-eating humanoids that lurk in the dark and dangerous unmapped cave that the six heroines are unlucky enough to enter.

One year after the tragic accident that killed her husband and her young daughter, the lead actress Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) decides to move on with her life and leave her traumatic past behind by doing something she has always loved; embark on another exciting adventure with her gal-pals Juno (Natalie Mendoza) and Beth (Alex Reid).

The three women along with three other girlfriends set off on their journey in the backwoods of North Carolina in order to explore a famous cave; a massive tourist attraction in the area.

With Juno leading the expedition, being the most experienced one, the entire tightly dressed group descents into the dark cave with excitement, girly laughter and a pinch of awe.

As they go along the scary and ominous cave that resembles a maze, they get trapped after a passage collapses. Soon enough, Juno has to reveal some very exciting news; she didn’t take them to the cave they thought they were. On the contrary, the company was ultimately trapped inside an unknown cave system that had never been explored before. Meaning: Nobody knew where they actually were.

Our fellow heroines have to find a way out, but as they move along in the cave, you can almost feel the air getting thinner. As they crawl inside the tight and narrow passages of the cave, you almost stop breathing and any hint of claustrophobia comes to the surface.

Unfortunately, claustrophobia is not the only problem. Not even the uncertainty of finding an exit. After 45 minutes of dark scenes, horrid panic attacks and desperate wandering around the cave system, Sarah and her friends come face to face with the true threat.

Flesh-eating creatures that move like rats, squeak like bats and eat like zombies terrorize the group and eventually cause their separation. Now, every woman has to fight for her own life even if that means to take a dive in a blood puddle, crawl through human intestines and bring out every kind of animosity.

Frankly, there is nothing quite human about these creatures of indeterminable form; however, Marshall successfully offers an exciting gory experience. The thin air, the squeaking zombies and the agonizing battle for survival make The Descent a great choice for pleasing the fans.


Movies like this one are not supposed to make sense, so don’t try to rationalize it. Of course, you wouldn’t try to push a broken bone that’s sticking out back in and you probably wouldn’t calmly dive into a deep puddle of thick blood with strange bits floating. But that’s the beauty of The Descent. It involves such graphic scenes and so exaggerated gore that, for the fans, it can be quite entertaining.

For those with a sensitive stomach, you’d be probably overwhelmed with disgust, so be prepared.

Fun fact. In 2009, Jon Harris directed the sequel of the film and the costume designer Paul Hayett slightly altered the appearance of the crawlers. Their teeth became sharper, their ears resembled those of an elf and they basically took a very specified goblin-like form; even though the sequel takes place in the exact same cave with the exact same threat. Funny.

12 Responses to “The Descent (2005) – Review”
  1. garylee828 says:

    So, what would you rate this out of 10?


  2. Tuan Ho says:

    I remember watching this back when it came out. A really, really solid movie.

    I’m pretty sure at some point in my life, a fantasy of mine was to be trapped with a group of women down in a cave, but just not with monsters lol


  3. thycriticman says:

    Only a 6/10? That is a shocker! This one has high scores everywhere I look….even from folks who are not horror fanatics. However, I know that I did watch this when I was young but I personally do not recall if I even liked or not. So we may or may not disagree…

    The fact is quite interesting…maybe they mutated over the years haha?


    • maria kriva says:

      Oh no, 6\10 is great from my perspective! Haha! It means I really enjoyed it, but there are other films out there, which deserve a higher score (like jeepers creepers, haha)

      Hmm, since you don’t recall if you liked it, it could be your next franchise! 😉 Chronologically, the second story took place right after the first one, so I am not sure if there was enough time for them to mutate! Haha! But, still..


  4. Absolutely adore this film.. graphic, terrifying and ultimately nerve-shattering! Wasn’t big on the sequel (and good points you raise there), and could it be that guys find it a bit more tense with no male leads (or even any characters really) to relate to?
    Jeeper Creepers caused me many, many nightmares growing up (surprisingly it really affected me, ha), but not many horror films post 2000 can match this one for me.


    • maria kriva says:

      I could tell that you love it from your post about horror movie posters!:) Ah honestly, I think the scene where Sarah gets trapped inside that narrow tunnel, really, really freaked me out more than anything else throughout the entire movie!haha
      Just imagine, how awesome it would be if the creatures were immortal!!? I liked them much better in this one than in the sequel!
      How can anyone not be affected by Jeepers Creepers?! haha! I can still hear the creepy song in my head!


      • Haha, claustrophobia is a very understandable fear!
        Ha they’re creepy enough as is! Being stuck in that cave with them would be even worse than having to watch Shakespeare in Love in my opinion.
        Oh my sisters used to sing that song to me so much because they knew it freaked me out! So good.


      • maria kriva says:

        Aww, weren’t they sweet?!? haha I didn’t know that song existed, so I thought that they made it specifically for the movie and I actually believed there was an intentional connection between the lyrics and the monster!
        And hey now, wait a minute… Will and Viola had only each other! It was sad…


  5. Tom says:

    I just love how claustrophobic the terror is in this film. The Descent is awesome!


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