Film Review: The Descent (One of the best horror films around)

This British horror film is (in my opinion anyway) one of the best horrors of the last decade.

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A group of 6 friends come together to do some cave exploring. Sarah is recovering after losing her husband and daughter in a tragic car accident. This trip with the girls is meant to be therapeutic. It turns out to be a nightmare. Leading the group is the feisty Juno, a caving enthusiast with a hunger for excitement. She takes her friends on a fun day out, but doesn’t bargain for a cave in, sealing the entrance they just came through. No problem though. According to the map, there are three ways in and out; they’ll just take another route. Except that Juno hasn’t brought the map, because the cave systems they’re now trapped in are new and have never  been explored before. She tells her flabbergasted friends she wanted them to be the ones to discover this new system. I’m only a viewer, but I wanted to reach through the TV screen and give the deceitful Juno a slap. Her friends contain their anger far better than me. So what are their choices? Either stay where they are and die, or keep exploring and hope there’s another way out.

It’s really hard to review this film without leaving spoilers. If you suffer from claustrophobia you may find it difficult to watch. There’s danger around every bend. Will they be able to find a way to the surface, or will the next corner show a dead end or a passageway too narrow to crawl through? How will they manage if one of them gets injured? What are those sounds Sarah thinks she hears every now and again? And is it her eyes playing tricks on her, or has she seen something moving in the dark?  To find out how exactly they do fare, go watch it immediately!

It’s rare to watch a film with an all female cast, rarer still to find a horror movie where all the women are strong and capable of handling themselves. With an international cast, The Descent is a refreshing change of pace from the average horror film.

There were some scenes I just had to look away from, Sarah squeezing in the eyes of her attacker until they’re goo was only one. Good for her, but I couldn’t keep watching. The gore just kept coming. Some people may judge Sarah for what she did in one riveting scene. Me? I say her actions were practical.

There are a number of hold your breath moments, but one scene that stays with me is when they find a cave painting. This is the first time in perhaps ten thousand years or longer that human eyes have gazed upon this primitive drawing.  There is something so lonely, awe-inspiring and terrifying about this. Realisation hits the viewer and the women, they are entirely alone down there.

Vivid, frightening, edge of your seat horror. *****

Who has seen this one? What did you think? How would you have dealt with Juno?

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37 thoughts on “Film Review: The Descent (One of the best horror films around)

  1. I agree! One of the *rare* horror movies that grabs you on a visceral “deep do-do” level. A great flick to watch with friends and get scared together… but not before bedtime, lol. 😀

  2. I agree with you about this one. It takes a lot to keep me watching from beginning to end. Descent did just that.
    As for Juno. I loved what happened. There’s more than one reason she got what she got!

    Have you seen the making of it. It’s so cool. And the actors not seeing the creatures before the sene is shot, running into them in the set is so scary and funny!

    1. I haven’t seen the making of it, but I’m sure going to now, Laura!
      I watched the sequel and it was just dire – awful piece of crap. They should have left it alone.

      1. I watched both of them again last night after seeing your post. Juno still infuriates me! The sequel, I watched it as a stand alone and it wasn’t so bad that way.
        In the making of Descent, they didn’t let the women see the creatures before filming and they snuck them into a scene. You should see their reactions! It would have had me fainting or peeing my pants!

    1. I didn’t even notice. I thought the sequel sucked. I couldn’t understand how they made a sequel given how the first one ended. Didn’t make a whole lot of sense to me.

  3. I’ve never seen this but it sounds riveting. I read a LOT of books like this and love them!!. The claustrophobia would probably do me in for the movie (I have an unnatural fear of caves–and bears, LOL–but we won’t go there). Still, it sounds like I’d be glued to the screen. And maybe covering my eyes a lot!

    1. Re the claustrophobia; there is a scene where one of the girls gets stuck in a tight passageway – I could barely watch it. I used to look at cave explorers on The Discovery Channel from time to time and cannot understand the appeal. Yikes.

  4. This film scared the begeezas outta me! That bit where she almost got stuck…..I turned to movie off the first time round it was too terrifying. Second time around I managed to get all the way though (with a pillow to hide behind) it’s a really well done film!

  5. It was bad enough when Buffy did that eye thing to a demon. I don’t think I could watch it being done to a person. If I watch it, I’ll have to hide my eyes as soon as I see it about to happen. LOL. Oh, and I might have to hide my eyes during the claustrophobic moments. *shudders*

    1. What Buffy episode was that in again? I’ve a vague memory but I must have repressed it 🙂 Hope you watch this, if only to appreciate what a unique horror film it is.

      1. It’s the episode where they can’t see Willow and Willow can’t see them, and there’s this monster who strips off flesh and eats it. They’re in this cave where the monster has Willow, and Buffy fights it and the way to kill it is through its eyes.

        I looked on Netflix and they have Descent Part 2 but not Descent. But I can stream it for free on Amazon since I’m a prime member. 🙂

  6. Ha. You had me laughing when you said you wanted to reach through the television and slap Juno. I know I’d feel the same way. Who walks into something like that and doesn’t go prepared for any possibility? Sounds like a real fright of a movie. I’d have to wait till the kids were well asleep to watch this. Not sure that’s the best time for me to watch something of this nature. I can only imagine the types of imagery it would conjure in a dream. Yikes.

    1. I was shouting all sorts of insults at her, ha ha. Juno was an arrogant cow!
      Probably not best to watch this before sleep. Hope you get around to watching it sometime, though.

  7. Really got a laugh at your urge to reach through the screen and slap that girl! No one would do that.
    But movies – have to suspend belief and play along…only raw unexplored caves are really really scary….and creepy.
    Does sound like real and practical characters dealing with it all.
    Thanks for the heads up…will grab blanket and pillow to hide behind!

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