This movie is one of the most unique and original films I have seen in years, or ever. Normally, I do not go for ‘creature features’, but The Descent is so much more than that. Even if this wasn’t a horror film, the back story is enough to keep anyone interested. The story revolves around a group of young women, best friends, who are really into adventures and dangerous excursions. The fact that the movie is composed only of women is another example of just how brilliant it is. Pair that with unknown caverns and creatures, and you’ve got yourself one hell of a rare gem.
The main character, Sarah, and her friends are white-water rafting, and her daughter and husband show up. They set out to leave, and subsequently get into a horrific car wreck. Her daughter and husband are killed instantly. Fast forward to a year later, and the group is in America in the Appalachian Mountains, preparing to embark on another of their aventures. The ringleader of the group, Juno, decides they should go spelunking in a cave nearby. Unbeknownst to the rest of the group, Juno has never been in this cave before, and as far as she knows, no one else has either. This is only discovered after a tunnel collapses and the team is forced to move forward into the abyss.
Issues surrounding Juno’s ego ensue, as well as having to cross a chasm in the cave by way of rope and climbing equipment, and one of the girls breaking her leg badly. As they attempt to get out and reach help, they are attacked by subhuman-like creatures who appear to be blind, albino, blood-thirsty hominids. They kill Holly, the one with the broken leg, and drag her away, as Juno tries to fight for her friend. Sarah, Beth, Sam, and Rebecca have scattered in different directions, but Beth comes back, and Juno, thinking it is another creature, hacks her in the neck with a pick-axe. Uh-oh. She leaves her friend to die and continues on. Sarah has discovered their lair of dead animals and bones, and with her hand-held camera on night vision, can see as they ravage Holly’s body. She then discovers Beth, not yet dead. She asks Sarah to put her out of her misery, but not before revealing that Juno did it to her, and that the necklace Juno wears is from Paul, Sarah’s deceased husband. Apparently, they had been having an affair for a long time, and Sarah had no idea. Rebecca and Sam attempt to fight back but are also killed.
So, it comes down to Juno and Sarah. Juno tells her that she watched Beth die at the hands of the creatures, which is Lie Number One. Sarah knows better. They continue to kick ass, but Sarah holds out the necklace, letting Juno know that she found out, thus confronting Lie Number Two. She jabs the pick-axe into Juno’s leg, and leaves her for the creatures. Does she survive? Does Sarah get out? Well. depending on the version you’ve seen, Sarah gets out and escapes in one, but is hallucinating and still trapped down below in another.
Released in the U.S. in 2006, this British film is nothing short of amazing. Anyone I know who has seen it definitely misjudged it, until they saw it. It is one of my favorites, and even though I own it, I watch it anytime it’s on television, as well! I love the tension surrounding the girls, with everyone trying to help Sarah recover, to the unrelenting ego of Juno, to them all fighting for their lives while fighting with themselves internally. It could not be better. Sometimes movies turn out to be simply magic, and everything falls into place. This is what happened for The Descent. Fabulous.