For five years, film critic Scott Tobias compiled "The New Cult Canon" in a regular column for The A.V. Club…
Scream your last breath.
After a tragic accident, six friends reunite for a caving expedition. Their adventure soon goes horribly wrong when a collapse traps them deep underground and they find themselves pursued by bloodthirsty creatures. As their friendships deteriorate, they find themselves in a desperate struggle to survive the creatures and each other.
Neil Marshall's intoxicating claustrophobic horrific tale of a group of friends who pick the wrong caves to explore. White water fun. A wreck of a car wreck. Hospital scenes are usually sad. Girls enjoy beer too. Silly pajamas. Sarah's life is a "Hell on Earth" type of life with all the shit that happens to her at the beginning of the film. It's kinda ironic how her "own personal Hell" turns into so much more as the descent into the caves begin. Pictures are used to capture memories. Have you ever tried writing 1000 words for a picture? Try it one day. It's fun. Juno knows directions. A light on your helmet helps you see in the dark. Spooky bats.…
Neil Marshall’s The Descent is a horror film that smartly plays on the primal fears of its audience as a group of thrill-seeking women embark on a caving expedition which becomes a literal descent into hell. Marshall allows the story to play out gradually as the expedition turns from a tensely staged battle of endurance to out and out survival when the unsuspecting gang come face to face with the cave’s original inhabitants.
The film begins with a jolt of an opening as Shauna Macdonald’s Sarah loses her family in a freak car accident. It is an oft-used device but Marshall employs it brilliantly whilst allowing the first half to build naturally as the audience gets to know the characters.…
One of the most genuinely frightening & paranoia inducing films to come out in a long time, The Descent is an ingeniously crafted horror masterpiece that seamlessly intertwines its incredibly tense & cleverly paced story with inventive cinematography, tight editing, mesmerizing score & strong performances from its all-female cast to create an undeniably creepy atmosphere of unrelenting claustrophobia which eventually launches such an all-out assault on our senses that the ensuing events turn into nothing short of an escalating experience of nightmarish horror.
Inducing fear from its isolated look, grim tone & eerie mood rather than relying on typical jump scares, The Descent is the very definition of horror in its purest form and with its sinister plot & nerve-jangling adventure, easily qualifies as one…
The circumstances in which you watch a film influence your rating or experience a lot. The first time I watched this was in 2005 in a Sneak Preview. Neil Marshall was not a name firmly established among Dutch genre fans and even though I had seen Dog Soldiers, when I saw his name on the screen no bells were ringing. I sat in a theatre, not knowing what I was going to watch, surrounded by people as clueless as me. When the title appeared it didn't mean anything to me. Ususally, during a Sneak Preview there are murmurs of recognition when what we're going to watch is revealed. Here there was no recognition at all.
Slowly we were taken into…
The Descent is absolutely impeccable. Dread is instant, continuous, and ever-present. With an impressively strong cast, Neil Marshall amps up the character right alongside the scares, keeping a brilliant balance between wondrous development and and frightful terror. I haven't seen anything so beautifully claustrophobic, enclosing the frame with suffocating amounts of darkness, surrounding the characters with toxic hopelessness and feverish pain.
Neil Marshall's direction is a roller-coaster in celluloid form, slowly climbing to the absolute limit before dropping into a state of horrific chaos and godlike revenge. It's as if the film itself goes back in time, with the primal instincts and the tribal paintings releasing a built-up rage deep within the collective unconscious. The direction is simply transfixing.…
Nothing beats discovering a gem of a film thanks to this great community! The Descent would have never been on my radar if it wasn’t for all the recommendations I’ve been receiving over the years and I am so glad I finally got to watch this. The element of surprise, genuine thrills and creepiness all around, strong emotional core to its main characters and a memorable ending filled with symbolisms make The Descent really stand out from most of the recent horror film that either recycle the same story over and over again or solely rely on gore and jump scares. It is essentially a story of survival and I admire the way writer/director Neil Marshall showed everyone’s true colors when facing a life-threatening situation like this. Finally, I thought it was refreshing to experience such an absorbing ending that lead to several different interpretations for the whole film. Highly recommended indeed!
Love the Foreign Horror, this film was super entertaining good acting and super creepy creatures, highly recommended!
The sequel to Spice World takes a turn for the dark.
A modern horror classic. Well paced and fantasticly staged. Ive enjoyed all of Neill Marschalls films, but this is by far his best.
The claustrophobic tunnels are freaking me more out than the creatures.
Fucking epic start and fucking amazing ending. Maybe some of the conflict between the women are a bit forced, but thats a minor complaint in an otherwise great movie.
It seems they pretty much stole Morricones score for The Thing. I dig it.
This review reportedly contains spoilers. I can handle the truth.
Always gotta enjoy claustrophobic horror. Everything was well done to acting, excellent cinematography, tension achieved, simply well directed and edited.
One thing that bothered me was the confrontation between Sarah and Juno near the ending. After both of them finished fighting off the humanoid creatures, Sarah stabbed Juno and left her for dead against the creatures for 2 reasons:
1. Sarah assumed Juno went out on an intentional hit on Beth.
2. Sarah also found out her husband cheated on her with Juno.
Yes this is true Juno stabbed Beth in the throat but it was a complete accident, after going on a killing spree in this utter darkness of a cave and someone sneaks up behind you OF COURSE…
The Descent draws viewers in with the all-female cast, and begins with great visual storytelling. Once things get going, and the descent begins, visual storytelling shifts, putting the weight on the performances of the six women. Unfortunately, performances run dry, and the connections between everyone feel forced, leaving the tension flat. There are a handful of good scenes amidst the in-your-face loud noises that count as scares, but all in all, the Descent is a lazy attempt at emotional, suspenseful horror.
"Hey, there's something down here..."
Good movie, could be a great one, really excellent makeup, amazing production design (this was not shot in an actual cave), as intense as any movie, and conceptually half baked (but most horror films are). The real problem here is Marshall's direction. It's too hyperactive for this setting, by cutting so often he reduces the feeling of isolation. It almost feels like footage is missing (aside from the infamously truncated ending) that would further flesh out the atmosphere. I simply don't feel claustrophobic enough. I'm still waiting for a horror movie to actually make me feel trapped, and honestly, only Henry Selick's Coraline comes close.
I'll admit, the first time I saw this I didn't take it very seriously and remember joking about it after with my friends. Time past and I re-watched it (with my grandmother of all people haha yes) and I found myself really enjoying it. It's definitely a different 'horror' film, makes you really feel the confinements of the caves it takes place in. Plus, it's pretty brutal once it gets going... well, sorry, the beginning scene really pulls you in also. Yeah... by the time its over you feel like gasping for air.
Contains every horror film made that is not lost and is found on the letterboxd database.
If there is any…