More in-depth film festival coverage than any other website!
Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
Advertisement

Overall Rating
4.34

Awesome62.7%
Worth A Look: 16.76%
Average: 13.51%
Pretty Bad: 5.41%
Total Crap: 1.62%

13 reviews, 107 user ratings


Latest Reviews

Maleficent: Mistress of Evil by Jay Seaver

Captain, The (2019) by Jay Seaver

Jojo Rabbit by Peter Sobczynski

Human Lost by Jay Seaver

Tammy and the T-Rex by Jay Seaver

Extra Ordinary by Jay Seaver

Daniel Isn't Real by Jay Seaver

Midsommar by Rob Gonsalves

Blood on Her Name by Jay Seaver

Parasite (2019) by Peter Sobczynski

subscribe to this feed


Descent, The
[AllPosters.com] Buy posters from this movie
by William Goss

"Going Down Screaming"
5 stars

Trauma [n] : a serious injury to the body, as from violence; an emotional shock that leads to substantial psychological damage; a situation that causes great distress. If ever there was a word to aptly describe Neil Marshall’s 'The Descent,' "trauma" would appear to cover all the bases. Just a heads-up.

A year after surviving a horrific family tragedy, Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) reunites with her friends to go spelunking in the Appalachians. Led by the cocky Juno (Natalie Mendoza), the group of feisty femmes head underground, only to find themselves trapped by a cave-in. It doesn't take long before tension begins to brew as the women discover that a) Juno has led them into an uncharted cave system, and b) something sinister lurks in the darkness ahead. Maybe they're demons, maybe they're monsters, but the bottom line is this: they don't like visitors, and they're pretty damn hungry. Even as the group finds itself facing an unknown threat, the women also find themselves at odds with each other, and things most certainly take a turn for the worse.

It must be that time of the month.

Emerging at a point when the marquee is smothered with tame horror remakes, constantly campy fare, or grisly attempts at shock-and-ewww, The Descent is a reminder of why the horror genre is such an enduring (not to mention endearing) one. There are a few cheap scares at the outset, but writer/director Marshall knows better than to rely on them, and the bona fide sense of fear that ensues more than makes up for a few inferior jolts. A welcome overseas effort, especially in the wake of last year's dual disappointment of High Tension and Wolf Creek, this import also fills the overall void left by the genre since the superb likes of 2003's 28 Days Later and 2004's Dawn of the Dead remake. The Descent is simply one of the best horror movies in years, with its solid construction and relentless execution evoking the likes of John Carpenter’s The Thing and Ridley Scott's Alien, among other classics.

There’s nary a wasted frame in the film’s lean, mean 99-minute running time, and the atmosphere is damn near suffocating as Marshall toys with our primal fear of the dark, squeezing his gals through impossible passages and having them cope with their ever-worsening circumstances. Then, once the extent of their peril is fully revealed, the film becomes a merciless chase punctuated with gruesome violence and sudden scares. The film ends on quite the bold note, with a climax ambiguous enough to be simultaneously stubborn and satisfying. Despite the efficient narrative, there is significantly more depth to the characters than one would expect from a simple horror flick.

Initially, the women are quite confident and athletic, always willing to take risks, even though Juno has a frequent habit of dominating the group. However, when events turn brutal, their individual survival instinct becomes evident. Eventually, Juno comes to share the spotlight with Sarah, her best friend whose recent mental stability is questionable at best, especially when a significant development changes their personal dynamic in tense fashion. It's an immense testament not just to Mendoza and Macdonald, but to the entire group for creating such an effective experience within a genre that routinely strains to keep victims extra ordinary in the face of peril.

Marshall, who initially landed on the radar of movie buffs worldwide with his 2002 debut, Dog Soldiers, cements his reputation here as a horror director to keep tabs on, infusing his sophomore effort with a confidence that few filmmakers achieve in their entire careers. The technical aspects are equally admirable in their seamless inclusion of the convincingly confined environment. Without the use of real subterranean locations, Marshall shoots from relatively practical angles and effortlessly combines that restraint with convincing set design, immersive sound work, and little more than natural lighting to create a palpable sense of claustrophobia. If there were any justice, those elements, along with Jon Harris' breathless editing and David Julyan's solid score, would be more than deserving of awards recognition.

(It should go noted that the American version of the film suffers from a slightly snipped ending that ends matters on a decidedly weaker note, as if audiences here couldn't stand a hearty helping of ambiguity with their quality horror. Such a change may be minor, but it is also unnecessary, almost to the point of shaving off a star out of sheer principle. Either way, the film still satisfies terrifically on a visceral level, if not entirely on a psychological one.)

This is a prime example of how a filmmaker can take a simple concept and use it to craft a gripping atmosphere of suspense, striking that perfect balance between genuine psychological tension and sheer visceral scares. Considering the somewhat stale state of recent horror, 'The Descent' is a godsend, a blessing disguised as a helmet-scraping, bone-snapping fright fest. Amen to that.

link directly to this review at https://www.efilmcritic.com/review.php?movie=12642&reviewer=409
originally posted: 02/08/06 22:13:52
[printer] printer-friendly format  
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Sundance Film Festival For more in the 2006 Sundance Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Philadelphia Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 San Francisco Film Festival For more in the 2006 San Francisco Film Festival series, click here.
OFFICIAL SELECTION: 2006 Fantasia Film Festival For more in the 2006 Fantasia Film Festival series, click here.

User Comments

2/24/18 Mitch The most claustrophobic I've ever been lying on my couch. 5 stars
9/12/17 morris campbell good scary monster movie 4 stars
6/27/15 Quigley One of the most intense horror films I've ever seen. 5 stars
1/07/14 Martin This movie does horror right, and in so many ways. See all endings, original one best. 4 stars
1/31/13 Charles Tatum Claustrophobics might add a star; good stuff 4 stars
1/13/12 matthew Thompson Dalldorf I will never enter a cave after seeing this 5 stars
5/15/11 stephen nettles AMAZING 5 stars
1/23/11 millersxing runs the gamut of gore with girl power 4 stars
7/16/10 Josie Cotton is a goddess At least as scary as a night in a shark's gut. At least. 5 stars
1/20/09 Camilo Espinoza Excelent 5 stars
11/26/08 Leo T fun, loads of good parts to startle... 5 stars
9/10/08 Borat Amazing horror movie 5 stars
4/16/08 Pete Chesworth Excellent film very creepy 4 stars
3/09/08 sumixam Really good, surprisingly so 5 stars
6/16/07 al smith nerve shreddingly tense amazing 5 stars
6/09/07 Danielle Ophelia Everything--the atmosphere, the exponential dread, the characterization--felt right. 5 stars
4/27/07 Total Crap It's "Kill Bill" meets "the Cave". This is a really cool movie. 4 stars
3/28/07 Mike Shady Awesome movie. totaly recommend it. 5 stars
3/27/07 bobb really cool 5 stars
3/01/07 THE REAL DEAL Predictable and a peice of crap. Go caving some time retard. FU Cornelius 5 stars
2/28/07 CARLENE HAYTON I expected more but I liked it! 4 stars
2/25/07 Dave One of the best horror films in five years or so. 4 stars
2/23/07 Weblynx Ok, scared me and entertaining 4 stars
2/10/07 Heather Watched with hands over eyes. Sign of a pretty scary movie! 2 stars
2/06/07 Indrid Cold Not so scary, but the psychological aspects make it an extremely satisfying thriller. 5 stars
2/05/07 Shobert O-V-E-R-R-A-T-E-D 2 stars
2/03/07 tony i like the way that nora jane act she's hot 4 stars
1/28/07 David Pollastrini The first scary movie to scare me in a long time! 5 stars
1/26/07 kris Better than average, some psychology. Hot lead girl. The US version ending is worse. 4 stars
1/14/07 Roxanne Meadows Yep, character are unlikeable and surface and underground geologies don't match! 2 stars
1/11/07 Tracey Chambers great movie. shows that anyone can become a killer given the right circumstances 4 stars
12/28/06 action movie fan a truly scary gorefest-above average horror film-has ture scares 4 stars
12/27/06 Spencer this movie rocked the first time I saw it and now it still makes me jump! 5 stars
12/05/06 Shawna Ride So-so gore happening to unlikeable characters; mostly a waste. 2 stars
11/28/06 Garkain sleep through the first have, then you have a great movie 4 stars
11/25/06 I-K Took long enough for this to hit Aussie cinemas... the wait was worth it 5 stars
11/22/06 jdean62 Hmmmm hard to say... for this genre it was good...but should have waited for the DVD 4 stars
11/19/06 Noel A great film, one of the most entertaining in a very long time!! 5 stars
11/18/06 Deon Smelt i think the decent is a great film i just carnt stop watching it after the first time 5 stars
10/25/06 Drew G OK, could have been much better 3 stars
10/23/06 Steve Newman I loved Dog Soldiers - thix ie even better 5 stars
10/19/06 nhlanhla it i a brilliant movie but i dont really understand da ending did she make it or is she sti 4 stars
10/09/06 Donna Gelpigi Has some surprise plot twist, but it gets drowned out in the sloppy gore overload! 2 stars
9/28/06 Yoali It was perfect last week. i was alone at home... i didn't sleep! 4 stars
9/27/06 matt it was ok, some nice gore but could have been scarier. 3 stars
9/12/06 Rob Excellent movie instant classic 5 stars
9/04/06 bobby b it will keep you at the edge of your seat 4 stars
9/01/06 Mary Beth succeeded in being extremely unpleasant 1 stars
8/27/06 cindy excellent !! 5 stars
8/26/06 M. Mirliss Utter brilliance in a genre that desperately needed it. 5 stars
8/25/06 --- Note to aspiring horror directors: This is EXACTLY what a horror film should be 5 stars
8/24/06 Teresa Saltos The monsters within the women were as scary as the monsters in the movie. Excellent film, 5 stars
8/24/06 Dave One of the best horror films in a long time. 4 stars
8/22/06 G Sherfy Scary? I think not. Use the first half and chuck the last "Gollums in a cave" half. 3 stars
8/20/06 Kaline totally sitting on the edge of your chair covering your eyes 5 stars
8/17/06 Pn. Everything was fine until the cawlers showed up... 3 stars
8/17/06 Loball Wow, total crap, horrible movie, corny plot, corny movie overall...only good if you suck 1 stars
8/16/06 DAVE einfach nur geil 5 stars
8/15/06 CJ Two-dimensional, dumb characters and a story full of holes. Overrated. 2 stars
8/13/06 Harold One of the most overrated movies of all-time! 1 stars
8/12/06 Jessica W. One of the best horror films I've seen 5 stars
8/10/06 Mase Not only the best horror movie of the last 10 years but one of the best of they year! 5 stars
8/10/06 Elisa Giro Aha! Is this film an allegory to the true meaning of ketchup? 3 stars
8/09/06 Doreen Hayes Loved it!! Great scary movie 4 stars
8/09/06 Mansi Dido Good fun. 3 stars
8/08/06 jcjs fun, blood, gore, cheap to make, entertaining, rocks, slime, yummy blood, scary, actioncraz 5 stars
8/08/06 tox GREAT! The whole theater was SCREAMING. And it was mostly adults! Very high tension movie. 5 stars
8/08/06 Frenzy very scary 5 stars
8/07/06 Agent Sands Decent horror flick save for wishy-washy cinematography and corny exposition. 4 stars
8/06/06 mek what the hell happened at the end 4 stars
8/06/06 Mike I'm in pure shock over how overhyped this was. This was just low budget crap. VERY let down 2 stars
8/05/06 Evil Wolfie Made me laugh... but that might just be my sick sense of humor... 4 stars
8/05/06 Ole Man Bourbon 1/3 scary, 1/3 boring, 1/3 crap. It's not that great. It's "decent." 3 stars
8/05/06 TiGrBaLm good gory action but didn't scare me at all 3 stars
8/02/06 lee Great ending (UK version) 5 stars
7/29/06 Nightjorn If this is as good as it gets...well...that's pretty sad for horror. 2 stars
7/14/06 Louise Great horror trip! Full of blood, guts and bone! Not for claustrophobics! 5 stars
7/08/06 Jambi The glowing reviews are absolutely head-scratching. Nothing special here. 3 stars
7/08/06 ES An ending that disappoints, standard effort from a marginal director 3 stars
7/06/06 stevo simply outstanding 5 stars
7/04/06 Dan Floreigh Loved it! Simply LOVED IT! Taught me to stay out of holes! 5 stars
5/22/06 Paul Lanner Super Scary! 5 stars
5/20/06 Frenzy Great horror 5 stars
5/07/06 Ramin Najjar What happens at the end? 2 stars
3/25/06 Alice I was also a bit disappointed, it was not THAT good.. 5 stars
3/21/06 Lazlo MASSIVELY overrated, not scary, DON'T believe the hype...huge disappointment!!!!! 2 stars
2/18/06 Ole Man Bourbon I screamed once, but was bored most of the time. 3 stars
2/10/06 David Anyone else find that "Juno leg-stretching" scene in the hut sexy? 4 stars
1/29/06 Laura Excellent in every way, to be particularly enjoyed by gore freaks like me. 5 stars
1/28/06 xtc the hype is no lie. See it in theaters with the sound cranked. 5 stars
1/26/06 Carlos I saw it 4 times. 4 times I was scary as hell. amazing 5 stars
11/24/05 Kevin O'Toole What a fantastic film! Creates an atmosphere which lasts long after the film is over! 5 stars
11/12/05 Vince One of the few horror movies which is ACTUALLY scary. 5 stars
10/30/05 Bob Had me peeing my pants 5 stars
10/25/05 chris fox (the god) a good film 5 stars
10/11/05 Heather Reid fantastic scary film 4 stars
8/29/05 Kenneth Clark Good for Saturday afternoon if you're not doing anyghing else 3 stars
8/15/05 .:*paris*:. OMG its like sooo scary deff a buyer,watch it with your m8s!! 5 stars
8/13/05 Jut Wow! another fantastic british film 5 stars
8/12/05 ES The cave is likely a rip-off of this, movie entertains but confuses 3 stars
8/12/05 A Carr Great! I watched most of this threw gaps between my fingers 5 stars
8/11/05 Mark Andrews Simple premise, wonderfully executed 5 stars
7/29/05 Nicole extraordinarily scary movie - strong women 5 stars
7/28/05 Laurabetty This film made me scream out loud in the cinema!! utterly terrifying!! 5 stars
7/28/05 Luke Akrigg Easily the best horror of atleast the last 15 years. 5 stars
7/28/05 Lee Kernan Best horror film Ive seen in years, a truly great genre film... 5 stars
7/26/05 Mark Barraclough Remember the time you saw the scariest film **EVER**? You will when you see this. Awesome! 5 stars
IF YOU'VE SEEN THIS FILM, RATE IT!
Note: Duplicate, 'planted,' or other obviously improper comments
will be deleted at our discretion. So don't bother posting 'em. Thanks!
Your Name:
Your Comments:
Your Location: (state/province/country)
Your Rating:


Discuss this movie in our forum

USA
  04-Aug-2006 (R)
  DVD: 26-Dec-2006

UK
  08-Jul-2005

Australia
  23-Nov-2006




Home Reviews  Articles  Release Dates Coming Soon  DVD  Top 20s Criticwatch  Search
Public Forums  Festival Coverage  Contests About 
eFilmCritic.com: Australia's Largest Movie Review Database.
Privacy Policy | HBS Inc. | |   

All data and site design copyright 1997-2017, HBS Entertainment, Inc.
Search for
reviews features movie title writer/director/cast