Never Seen It: The Descent



Date released: August 2, 2006

Date watched: October 28, 2013

Why Now?: With our Girls on Horror series, we’ve been featuring plenty of leading ladies in the horror genre, from fresh meat finals to deadly and demonic little girls. After making my case for Alien’s Ellen Ripley and the wicked Katharine Isabelle (American Mary, Ginger Snaps series), I thought it’s time to give The Descent’s Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) a view.

Why not then?: The Descent was released when I was still in high school and, well, I lived in even more of a hole then than I do now, so this one easily slipped right past me. I also had a terrible fear of the dark and still find the thought of being unable to freely move my limbs petrifying—so clearly, had I heard this film was about exploring a dark cave and squeaking through tight passages, a rapid “no thanks” would be my only response.


  • Group of close-knit girls descend into a cave and meet with some “creepy-crawlies”
  • A fight for life, to emerge on the other side
  • Strong female lead

What I actually got:

  • A group of seemingly close-knit girls physically descend into a cave, yes, but it’s just mirroring the mental descent that these women experience. While we, the viewers, know that these women don’t know each other as well as they think they do, we soon see that their reactions in the face of danger and the revelation of deep secrets cut through what little friendship there really was.
  • A strong female lead, who’s experienced terrible trauma and lost her family, and who’s unforgiving toward those who betray her. Sarah will do anything to help her friends survive; however, when she discovers Juno’s secrets, she exacts her revenge.
  • A definite fight for life that doesn’t offer a complete sense of re-emergence, which actually surprised me. With all that Sarah goes through—and survives—I really did expect to see a definitive escape, but I enjoyed how the film closed, with a meaningful open ending. (Can’t say I’m all that willing to give the sequel a try…)

One night-in stand or second date potential?: I’d have to say one night-in stand. That’s not to say that it’s not worth another viewing; I’d watch it again. But it’s just not that type of movie that I’d watch a second time and still enjoy it just as much as the first.


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