Despite a generic concept, the Descent is a cult classic with a rarely done all female casting that makes you think about morality in the face of survival.

One year after a tragic accident, six girlfriends meet in a remote part of the Appalachians for their annual extreme outdoor adventure, in this case the exploration of a cave hidden deep in the woods. Far below the surface of the earth, disaster strikes, and there’s no way out. But there is something else lurking under the earth. (Lionsgate)

The Descent is a rare gem – it has an female cast without gender stereotypes, it has characters that don’t make stupid decisions for the sake of cheap thrills, and it has a story with a plausible and well executed plot.

It has recognizable characters supported by great performances. These girls are experienced cave adventurers and know what they’re doing, until ego leads the group to bite more than they can chew.

As the situation gets dire, claustrophobia sets in as the girls squeeze their way out and avoid falling into the dark abyss. When it’s clear that nature is not the only one they’re up against, the sustained suspension turns into full blown run-for-your-life horror.

The scares are nerve wracking and creative. Despite a low budget the film manages to turn you into a bundle of nerves by making the best of what it has – the setting and good direction instead of an unkillable CGI big bad. It has a lot of gore but they move the story forward and develop the characters instead of just being used for shock value.

There’s also other questions – apart from the “things” – that add another layer to the character dynamic – what’s with the tension between Sarah and Juno?

Combine all of this and you have a cult classic that manages to make you reflect on morality and mortality. The peek-a-boo scares and the creature feature is familiar, but the Descent proves that talent and execution can elevate a generic concept.

My Rating: 8/10

Illustration by Dan Mumford

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