The Descent is one of the scariest movies of all time, and that's before the creepy crawling creatures ever show up. No other movie has triggered more bouts of claustrophobia more than this film. It's put me off of cave diving forever. At its core, it's a film about loss and rebirth. On the surface, it's a life lesson in always telling people exactly where you're planning on spelunking. It's a damn shame Neil Marshall didn't become one of the great modern horror directors, what with this film and his previous film Dog Soldiers. This one especially really gets under the skin.
A year after a terrible accident that killed her husband and young daughter, Sarah (Macdonald) is invited on a cave-exploring trip with all her friends who want to try and do something nice for her. The trip is organized by girl group alpha Juno (Mendoza), who quickly turns into the worst friend of all time, what with the lying about their location and, you know, the murder. Anyway, they all go cave-diving in what they think is a tourist trap, but once they become literally trapped, Juno tells them they're actually stuck in an uncharted cave that no one knows about. The girls get paranoid fast, and start turning on Juno especially. Then, they get attacked by vicious humanoid man-eating creatures that live deep in the earth. Every moment of this film is bone-chilling, and the creatures just add to the terror.
As I said, the creatures are scary, but the real fear of The Descent is the sense of isolation and entrapment. Those cave openings are so damn tight. It makes you hold your breath. Marshall did a great job of establishing tone, and the film has become a cult classic because of that and its fantastic performances. This is definitely one of the greats.