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The Descent

A movie directed by Neil Marshall

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I'd give it zero stars if I could

  • Mar 9, 2007
Pros: No one involved with this film can be considered a pro.

Cons: If making bad movies was a crime, everyone involved is a con.

The Bottom Line: Just . . . don't . . . bother.

Plot Details: This opinion reveals major details about the movie''s plot.

Pardon me for the sexist joke I’m about to make. Six women go into a cave and there is no one else to ask for directions; how many make it out alive?

I have an idea. Most horror movies are filmed in about 60-70% dark; why not try for 90% and see what happens? We can film it in a cave so the only lights are from spelunking helmets and flashlights; add lots of screaming and the audience will totally like wet itself dude.


A klatch of women are into something akin to extreme sports. We first find them in a raft on rapids. Then, for some reason never explained, an accident occurs where the husband and child of one of the women are killed. Fast forward a year or so when the klatch gather at some point along the Appalachian Mountains for some good old fashioned spelunking. This is a supposed horror flick, what do you think happens next? Yes, a cave in—and this is further complicated by another standard barer (though this time in the disguise of a female) someone doesn’t bring the guide book. Enter some humanoid and bat-like creatures, some goo, a goodly amount of guts and a staggering amount of bones and you have yourself the movie version of a fast food #6 with extra ketchup.

I’m beginning to feel like a broken record since the movies I’ve been getting from Netflix have all sucked terribly lately. The Descent is so predictable that even the supposedly ‘shock’ scenes where one of the boogie-monsters (hehe) jump out are so telegraphed that you would have to be either totally baked or half dead not to see it coming.

Good thrillers and horror movies use a technique that I call ‘making you wish you had control of the camera’ because you know if the camera moves just a little the way you want you can spot the horror and maybe do something about it—this kind of anticipation is one of the reasons people watch this sort of story. Here I didn’t really care what the camera was doing, I wanted, for the sake of my increasing headache at the nature of this film, to control the lighting. Six people squiggling around in all directions means you really see nothing at all. Early on I can see spending a little energy to try to adjust to this trope. After only about ten minutes though, my eyes decided not to try to make sense of it and just view it as a Jackson Pollock painting rigged to scream an awful lot.

Some people tried to act, but basically you just get women screaming in American, British, and Irish accents. I think someone directed it and it appears that there was some minimal writing. Someone definitely edited the film and I have a feeling it is because they lost a bet.

There were two things that didn’t outright suck. First the music was pretty top shelf, not the best there is, but better than the meal (movie) required—though any wine may go with a cheeseburger. The other thing is that there were 6 women and none of them went naked even for a brief second. That has to be a horror film first.

This movie isn’t bad. Bad is a movie where Ernest goes somewhere. A terrible movie is something made where Mel Gibson is the auteur. No this is much worse than all of those. I hate to give a film like this a new word but I’m feeling slightly charitable so we will just call The Descent supercalifragilisticexpial-atrocious.

If you want the answer to the joke—and it truly is funny . . . the answer is zero.


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More The Descent reviews
review by . October 31, 2008
The Descent
Actually, I gave this movie 3 1/2 stars, but for the benefit of the doubt used 4 instead of lowering it to just 3. WARNING: Jeff Long wrote a fantastic book called 'The Descent'. When I first heard of this movie I thought at last they had made the book into a movie. Wrong. The only things the book and the movie have in common are the name and something creepy underground.     Six women, Sarah, Juno, Beth, Rebecca, Sam and Holly, love get togethers that include extreme adventures, …
review by . May 16, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
When I first saw previews for "The Descent," I immediately wrote it off as a copycat wannabe thriller like "The Cave." In fact, that's what took me so long to view this film. I figured that it would be just another dull spelunking horror flick. Boy, was I wrong. "The Descent" is one of the top horror flicks to come out in the last few years. The plot is simple enough: six ladies, all with varied intentions, head off to the Appalachian mountains for a weekend of spelunking fun. Once they hit the …
review by . January 10, 2007
posted in Movie Hype
Somewhat resembling a big budget `Blair Witch Project' for adults, `The Descent' finds six girlfriends from the U.K. spelunking in the caves of Appalachia after one of them, Sarah (Shaina McDonald), has a tragic family SUV accident. Wanting to console her a year after she loses her husband, Sarah is not always a happy camper. Everyone is all smiles in their mountain cabin, but soon we are confronted by the usual surprise tactics: people sneaking up on others, bats coming out of nowhere, etc. The …
review by . September 13, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
A group of female friends meet each year for a weekend of outdoor adventuring. After a weekend of white water rafting, one of the women, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) is involved in a tragic car accident. Her husband and son are killed and she is left seriously injured. A year later she gathers together with her friends once again for a weekend of spelunking in the Appalachian Mountains (bringing images of DELIVERANCE and the cabin in EVIL DEAD to mind). Some of her friends want this to be a weekend …
review by . August 07, 2006
posted in Movie Hype
(Aug 6th 2006 - update below)  There are rules. Rules to the genre of horror. The Descent follows the rules, then surpasses them, then breaks them in its wake. This movie is phenomenal.    For years I slovenly sagged by head after viewing one dissappointing horror flick after another. Jeez what a sad journey, but now I am happy and oh so pleased to tell you my amazon friends, a new king (or queen shall I say) is born for horror.    The Descent transends …
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Paul Savage ()
Ranked #30
I name and describe everything and classify most things. If 'it' already had a name, the one I just gave it is better.
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About this movie


Claustrophobia and bloody mayhem collide in the high-adrenaline horror flickThe Descent. Six women (including one who lost her husband and child the year before, and one who harbors a bitter secret) spelunk in an unexplored cavern system that turns out to harbor mysterious, predatory creatures. That sums up the story, but--as with writer-director Neil Marshall's previous low-concept movie,Dog Soldiers--the plot doesn't begin to describe the riveting, stomach-lurching thrills this movie provides. The script affords the relatively unknown cast (led by Shauna Macdonald and Natalie Mendoza, both excellent) just enough room to make their characters distinct and genuine, so that when they're dropped into utmost peril our empathy is engaged as much as our fear. The dynamic direction and editing make the cavern a palpable, physical presence, even before the creepy beasts crawl out of their nooks. This is not a movie for everyone; it is extremely gruesome and will induce panic attacks in anyone with even a mild fear of closed spaces. But for anyone seeking something smarter, faster, and more wrenching than static torture-fests likeSaworHostel,The Descentwill draw you into its unsettling ooze.--Bret Fetzer
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Genre: Horror
Release Date: 4 August 2006
MPAA Rating: R
Runtime: 99 Minutes
Studio: Celedor Films
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