The Descent (2005)
Written and directed by Neil Marshall, who also happened to write and direct one of my personal favorites Dog Soldiers, knocked out another instant classic with this film. Highly underrated on it's release the more people were able to see it though were able to help spread the word into a horror film I don't know anyone who has disliked.
The movie starts with a tragic accident and shows how six good friends come together to enjoy one of their favorite past times as both a way to have fun as well as a way to help the one involved in the accident get back on her feet and move on with her life. How does one turn a movie about six tough female spelunkers of all things into a horror movie? What exactly is a spelunker? Watching The Descent will easily answer that as it was hands down one of the best horror films in the past 10 years! Oh, and to answer the second question a spelunker is a cave explorer for those who really didn't know.
There are many ways to up the suspense level in a situation where 6 people are exploring caves. In fact how many basic premises of fear can we fit in? The three major ones are: the dark, being lost, claustrophobia and building on all three with a slew of increased dangers and ideas. How about starting the exploring and realizing the person in charge of setting up the expedition thought it would be a great idea to instead of picking a known cave system to explore a brand new one? Now let’s mix in that they initially started to follow a map that wasn’t relevant to the cave they were in and no one has a clue on which cave they actually went to explore?
Of course known for his first film about werewolves it's easy to think he may include a creature of some sort chasing after our explorers - and he does. So on top of the above 3 major reasons for suspense to build upon, once things almost look like they are going well we can add in something stalking them into the mix. It is quickly clear what these creatures are what is hard to figure out is how these 6 friends will be able to avoid them and get out alive.
When I first heard the premise for this film I wasn't sold on the idea that it was going to be great. When someone told me it was “kind of like Dog Soldiers but with women in a cave” I was worried it was just a rehash of a basic premise. In fact I wasn't even really interested in seeing the film until one of my friends said I was doing a disservice to myself for not giving it a chance and reminded me of my dislike for most werewolf films and how much I liked Neil’s first movie about werewolves. Don't let this gem of the horror genre pass you by if you aren't sure if the plot was going to hold your attention - it will.