If you’re a horror movie fan, you must’ve heard all about The Descent, one of the first cave horror movies ever released. It’s so strange to think that no one has thought about making a horror movie about a cave exploration gone horribly wrong up until this point. No one but Neil Marshall, the guy who brought us Dog Soldiers and Doomsday. The caves are inherently creepy places. First of all, we have to remember that we, as a species, spent a large chunk of our evolution using them as shelter. Hiding in them from bigger predators and weather conditions.
This primordial setting elicits an instinctive and natural response from the viewer. Even if nothing happens in this movie, even if they spent the whole time just going through the cave, it would still be a creepy ass movie. And a lot of stuff is going to happen in this movie. We will be following six women who decide to go cave exploring only to end up fighting for their lives several hours later. The decision to use an all-female cast was a bold one but it paid off. Especially because all the girls gave incredible performances led by Natalie Mendoza and Shauna Macdonald as Sarah.
And since she’s already claustrophobic, the fear you see in her eyes is oftentimes real. Additionally, most of them have done their own stunts. Featuring a running time of just ninety minutes and a fast tempo, The Descent is a lean and mean horror movie. The atmosphere is unsettling right from the start and it only gets more and more uncomfortable as time goes on. I won’t reveal too much about the story as I don’t want to spoil anything. And this is one of those movies you simply knew are going to be good, so you don’t need to know a lot about it. In fact, you should probably stop reading this now and go watch the movie.
After a tragic accident, Sarah is finally starting to come back into her own. To celebrate, she and her six best friends decide to go for a cave exploration weekend. Focus and physical exertion will surely take her mind off other things, Sarah thinks. And it feels so good to reunite with the old gang. However, none of them are aware of the dangers hiding in the darkness of this particular cave system. And soon, they will have to use all their skill and wits to survive the ordeal.
There’s something about these British horror movies that makes them feel so nasty that I can’t describe it. I mean, the budget for The Descent was just $4.5 million and the movie looks stunning. All the practical, special effects and sets look believable and more importantly, just plain old nasty. When you’re making a movie like this sound design is incredibly important and whoever worked on this movie, fucking nailed it. And you already know the lighting was perfect.
Finally, if you’re looking for more horror movies taking place in caves, I recommend you start with the sequel to the movie we were talking about today, Descent 2. Then you can move on to The Cave, Sanctum, and Spanish claustrophobic thriller La Cueva.
Director: Neil Marshall
Writer: Neil Marshall
Cast: Shauna Macdonald, Natalie Jackson Mendoza, Alex Reid, Saskia Mulder, MyAnna Buring
Fun Stuff: All of the caves you see in the movie The Descent are not real. They were build as 23 separate sets as filming in real caves would be far too time consuming and dangerous.