The next time your crazy adventurous friend suggests going spelunking for your annual get-together, just say no; seriously. The Descent reminds us that there is a lot to be said for sipping margaritas on a tropical beach somewhere, swimming in the ocean with giant sea turtles, and just working on your tan. At the very least, stay above ground and avoid nocturnal activities.
The Descent is a jump scare heavy film about six women who go spelunking, and as things start to go horribly wrong, they discover they might not be alone. Following a horrible car crash that kills her husband and daughter, Sara travels to the United States to meet up with a group of friends that get together annually to do things like rock climbing and whitewater rafting. Her friend, Juno, has insisted that they go spelunking this year and she has found the perfect cave system. It isn’t until a collapse traps them that she reveals they aren’t in the cave system they filed a plan with the Parks Department for, but instead they are in an unnamed and unexplored cave system. They’re forced to press deeper into the system in the hopes of finding a way out. Eventually they encounter three creatures that call the cave system home and they aren’t really happy about strangers just dropping in.
The Descent is a bloody film that features a primarily female cast, even the creatures are performed by a fairly equal mix of men and women. While the Crawlers are fairly horrific, much of the tension and horror in the film comes from the dynamics of the female relationships. It’s an exploration of the ways that women cope with trauma and betrayal and how those unresolved issues lead to some truly terrifying results when things get rough.
The film itself takes place primarily in the dark. There is a lot of black, empty space on the screen that lends itself to the creeping feeling that they are not alone. Even some of the more gory shots have a sort of beauty to them from the dramatic single source lighting. The soundtrack is appropriately sparse in the cave system giving the movie that empty echoing silence that comes from being two miles underground surrounded by rock.
Exploring both the horrors of the unknown and humanity, The Descent will keep you up at night wondering if you can really trust those people you call your friends.