The Descent is an estrogen drenched horror adventure movie that is well acted, well directed and cleverly told.
Characterizing the movie as estrogen drenched isn't just a comment on the all female cast it is a comment on the storyline itself. The setup is simple: A group of women get together periodically to embark on a tourist adventure of some kind. We meet them when they are white water kayaking. On the way home from the even Sarah gets into a car accident in which both her husband and daughter are killed. Cut to their next get together and the women have all come together for another adventure this time they plan on spelunking.
The leader of this band is Juno a hard as nail firebrand who plans this adventure for her group. Juno brings her group to a cave hidden deep in an old growth arboreal forest and they start their descent into the dark. This wouldn't be a horror/adventure movie if there weren't any creatures in the dark and there was an easy way to escape so naturally it turns out that Juno has lead her band into an unknown cave system which is inhabited by creatures which could be human but have clearly evolved into cave dwellers that feed off of the unwary travelers and the animals in their vicinity.
This movie fires on all cylinders with hard hitting action, great dialogue and very tight direction. It goes to show what can be accomplished with a small budget and some real talent before and behind the lens. Natalie Jackson Mendoza is perfect as Juno - the earth mother - bringing her brood into the dark blood soaked world filled with terror. Shauna Macdonald as a surprisingly resourceful and strong Sarah is deserving of special note in a difficult role.
There are flaws in The Descent but they are not significant. If you can accept that humans would evolve into a cave dwelling species then you can pretty much accept everything else that follows. The biggest flaw though is with a completely unsatisfactory ending which is confusing and a completely inappropriate denouement to what until that time is a strong effort.
The Descent is a small movie with a great cast and is definitely worth your while