11 Facts About ‘The Descent,’ 11 Years After Its Release

The Descent is a marvelous film. Clearly one of the , Neil Marshall’s (literally) underground horror brings the scares and (again, literal) rivers of blood, while not relying on gore alone for shock.

Jokingly referred to as Chicks with Picks on-set, The Descent stands as a great horror feature over a decade after its release.

Check out 11 interesting facts about The Descent.

1. Double Ender

Two different endings were made for the US and UK release respectively. The latter is darker and more ambiguous. .

2. True Fear

signed onto the movie without seeing the Crawlers. Director Neil Marshall kept the creatures secret to allow a genuinely terrified reaction when the women first saw them. It worked — Natalie Mendoza (Juno) remembers:

“When the moment came, I nearly wet my pants! I was running around afterwards, laughing in this hysterical way and trying to hide the fact that I was pretty freaked out. Even after that scene, we never really felt comfortable with them.”

The all-female cast of the The Descent... before it all went wrong, down in the dark
The all-female cast of the The Descent… before it all went wrong, down in the dark

3. ”Humans are the scariest things”

Neil Marshall had a very clear vision for how he wanted the Crawlers to be:

”Something human, but not quite. It is a colony and I thought that was far more believable than making them the classic monsters. If they had been all male, it would have made no sense, so I wanted to create a more realistic context for them. I wanted to have this very feral, very primal species living underground, but I wanted to make them human. I didn’t want to make them aliens because humans are the scariest things.”


4. The Making of a Crawler

The freaky cave-dwelling creatures were designed by Paul Hyett, director of and the upcoming Heretiks. He adapted the design for The Descent 2 after director Jon Harris:

”Wanted them more viciously feral, inbred, scarred and deformed, with rows of sharklike teeth for ripping flesh.”

5. A Close Shave

It took a long-ass time to get the actors into makeup for the Crawler look — three and a half hours, to be precise. They were also required to shave their bodies to achieve the glistening, hairless look of the underground cave dwellers.


6. A Bunch of Stunts

The Crawlers were played by actors, not stunt people. This was an unusual choice, but Marshall wanted each Crawler to have its own personality and mannerisms, so thought trained actors would be the best way. No stunt performers were used in the white water rafting scene either: Shauna Macdonald, Alex Reid and Natalie Mendoza learned to do it themselves.

7. Caving In

The Descent looks gritty and real, but no caves were used in the movie. For safety reasons, Marshall had six full cave sets built at London’s Pinewood Studios.


8. Ms. Deliverance

The parallel to acclaimed survival horror Deliverance is referenced within The Descent: the women journey toward ‘Chatanooga National Park’, a fictional place named after the Chatooga River in Deliverance.

9. Artistic Inspiration

One version of the theatrical poster for The Descent is a direct reference to Philippe Halsman’s In Voluptas Mors.


10. Bringing up the Bones

When Sarah falls onto a heap of bones in The Descent, one of them is a wolf head prop used in director Neil Marshall’s previous horror movie, Dog Soldiers (2002).

11. Do You Want To Play A Game

Jigsaw himself, Tobin Bell, has stated that The Descent one of his very favorite horror movies. Well, if it’s good enough for John Kramer…

Is The Descent one of your favorite horror movies of the 21st Century?

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