The Descent - abyss of horror

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German title The Descent - abyss of horror
Original title The Descent
Country of production United Kingdom
original language English
Publishing year 2005
length 99 minutes
Age rating FSK 18
Director Neil Marshall
script Neil Marshall
production Christian Colson
music David Julyan
camera Sam McCurdy
cut Jon Harris

Successor  →
The Descent 2 - The hunt continues

The Descent - abyss of horror is a British horror - thriller from 2005. It was built under the direction and a screenplay by Neil Marshall , who also directed the 2002 thriller Dog Soldiers filmed. In Germany , the film opened on November 10, 2005 and had around 150,000 viewers, in Great Britain and especially in the USA it was much more successful. Globally, he has grossed over $ 57 million at the box office on a budget of $ 6.5 million .


The film is about a cave expedition of six women friends in the American Appalachians . One of the friends, Sarah, is still dealing with the trauma of a car accident the previous year in which her husband and daughter were killed but she survived. Since then she has had a recurring daydream about her daughter blowing a birthday cake with five candles. As the leader of the group, Juno organizes the excursion, which Beth, the enthusiastic extreme athlete Holly and the two sisters Rebecca and Sam van Ney also take part.

After a night in a mountain hut , Juno leads the five friends to the entrance of a cave system they believe to be the touristically developed Boreham Caverns. They abseil down and soon pass through a narrow tunnel one by one. Sarah is the last to get stuck in the tube and has a claustrophobic panic attack , with her daughter appearing again. Beth crawls back to Sarah and tries to calm her down, but the corridor becomes unstable and collapses immediately after Sarah has freed herself and the two of them have escaped from the corridor.

Since their way back is blocked, Juno admits in a subsequent argument that they are not in the Boreham Caverns, but in an unexplored and unnamed cave system that she wanted to discover with her friends. But her friends accuse her of acting selfishly by lying about the cave.

When, while crossing the cave, they encounter a deep crevice in the rock and have to abseil to the other side, Rebecca discovers a climbing hook , which is about 100 years old. Juno is the last to rope herself to the other side, but before that she loosens another rope because they would still need it. The old climbing hook can't take the load and so Juno falls, but her friends can still hold her rope, but Rebecca tears her hand on the falling rope. When Holly then mistook phosphorus reflections in the rock for daylight and carelessly hurried down the tunnel, she fell meters deep into a crack and broke her leg . The friends rappel down to her and seemed to be the leg of Holly, who was screaming in pain. Sarah moves away from the scene of the accident into a sinus when she thinks she can hear a child laugh. She discovers a rusty helmet and shortly afterwards a pale figure appears in the beam of her flashlight in the distance, which quickly moves away. Her friends do not believe Sarah's stories and try to calm her down by pointing out a mirage.

When they find cave drawings, they realize that there must be a second exit and decide to look for it in the endless system of passages, rock cracks and caves. But it turns out that they are not alone after discovering a strange being. Strange, ugly and blind crawlers live in the cave system, not so dissimilar to humans, but perfectly adapted to life in the dark. They orient themselves by sound and feed on fresh meat. For the women a bitter struggle for survival begins, in which not only the crawlers are their enemies, but also mutual distrust, the omnipresent darkness and paranoia.

Holly is fatally injured in the first fight against the oncoming crawlers: a crawler jumps on her and bites her neck. The others flee, only Juno stays behind and kills a crawler who wants to get Holly's body. Immediately afterwards, when she heard a noise behind her, she turned around in a flash, expecting another crawler and the ice ax still in hand. But the noise did not come from a crawler, but from her friend Beth, who rammed the ice ax through her neck while turning her body. The two look each other in the eye and are stunned by what has just happened. After Beth tore the chain from her neck pleading for help, Juno runs away in shock . Meanwhile, Rebecca and Sam are in another corridor and hear a crawler. They lie down in a crevice and stay there until the crawler disappears. He hears Juno calling for Sarah and climbs in her direction.

Sarah is meanwhile in a part of the cave that serves as a pantry for the crawlers. She has to watch the crawlers pounce on Holly and eat her. When they are gone, she builds a torch and looks for an exit. However, she finds the dying Beth, who warns her about Juno. She hands Sarah the necklace that Juno got from Sarah's husband and asks her to relieve her of her pain, whereupon Sarah kills her on the head with a stone.

Juno meets Sam and Rebecca, who have just been attacked by a crawler. They are trying to find an exit. Sam runs away excited and full of fear and wants to abseil over a deep crack in the rock when a crawler suddenly faces her and tears her throat with his bare hands. With the last of her strength, she manages to injure the crawler with the knife so that he falls into the water while Juno and Rebecca have to watch everything. Rebecca is then pulled back into the shaft and eaten alive. Juno jumps into the water and destroys the crawler in it for good. Sarah pulls her out of the water. Sarah asks about the others, especially Beth. She asks Juno if she saw her die, which Juno confirms with a nod.

The two hear a group of crawlers approaching. You have a fierce battle with them and can kill some. Sarah shows Juno Beth's necklace, hits her with an ice pick in the calf and leaves her with the crawlers. She runs away herself, but falls into a shaft. She sees daylight, climbs up the shaft to the surface of the earth and, still in a panic, flees in her car. But then she realizes that it was just a dream, because she is still in the shaft. In the closing sequence she imagines she is sitting in the cave with her daughter and a birthday cake; When the camera zooms out, however, it becomes apparent that it actually went in a circle and landed back at the entrance shaft that collapsed at the beginning. You hear the howling of crawlers who are supposed to be heading in Sarah's direction, and the film ends.

Cuts and cuts

In the German FSK-16 version, some scenes of violence have been defused that show details of how Rebecca is eaten, as well as some bloody fight scenes between protagonists and crawlers. The plot remained unchanged. The approx. 1 minute longer FSK 18 version corresponds to the international version, is uncut and therefore also contains the complete ending.

In the USA, the film was released in both an R-rated and an unrated version. In the R-rated version , the ending was omitted and faded out in the middle of Sarah's hallucination as she leaves the cave. This intervention is less for the protection of minors, but for commercial reasons, since the US audience has a strong preference for happy endings and there - even with horror films - a protagonist usually survives.




The Swiss TV and cinema magazine Tele described the film as the best horror film of the whole of 2005 and wrote that The Descent was an ingeniously staged horror film that was terrifying, entertaining and, in a positive way, encouraging people to look away. Rüdiger Suchsland also praised:

"The [...] extremely exciting and completely staged struggle for survival, staged without the usual Hollywood cynicism, as well as the ambiguous ending prove that distrust, anger and fear are the greatest danger and that women are not better people either."

- Rüdiger Suchsland, artechock film, 2005

Nevertheless, doubts about the subtext of the film were raised in many places :

“Amazingly, all these common places work just as much on the screen as mere assertions as they do in the written text: These sub-texts are plausibly fitted into the plot and effect structure of the film, and yet they never aim at more than evidence of shrewdness of the author. Even the fact that the film starts with a trauma and continues with extreme sports hardly achieves the expressiveness that one would expect such a trace of meaning on paper. Every (even really bad) Schundler of the Roger Corman School is a richer semantic tangle than this business card film, on which even and especially the subtexts seem fatally streamlined . "

- Joachim Schätz, flourian.ruhezone, 2005

“Where De Palma still knew how to integrate kitsch, brutality and film quotations into a system of signs that in his better films become a fundamental reflection on human vision in the age of its reproducibility by the camera, The Descent remains , however deep it is Tries to dig, but always clings to the surface of things. Everything remains material, a means to an end that is not questioned or reflected on. [...] Consistently staged bypassing all possibilities and ambitions, unsavory, admittedly extremely exciting, horror home-style cooking that leaves a somewhat bland aftertaste, like everything that has simply been eaten too often. "

- Nicolai Bühnemann, Filmzentrale, 2005


The sequel with the title The Descent 2 - The hunt goes on - which is directly linked to the events of the first part - was released on December 4, 2009 in the USA.

Web links

Individual evidence

  1. (in English) - An American test audience preferred a hopeful end opposite to an end with subtext, the provoking.