When the British horror film The Descent hit American theaters in August 2006, it had already won over UK audiences and premiered with rave reviews at the Venice Film Festival. But behind the scenes, The Descent survived on an extremely low budget, broke the genre mold with its all-female cast, and even worked around the clock to release before an American competitor film.
In the years since, The Descent has garnered an international following due to its unnervingly claustrophobic premise, impeccable acting and direction, and utterly horrifying special effects. Set a year after the protagonist Sarah has suffered a traumatic loss, The Descent follows six female friends on their adventurous attempt to get Sarah's life back to normal. When a cave they are exploring crumbles and leaves them stranded in an uncharted system in the Appalachians with limited supplies and no hope for rescue, their friendships and survival skills are put to the test.
As if things aren't bad enough, the women quickly realize they are not alone. They encounter a civilization of humanoid underground beings who have an acute sense of hearing and an otherworldly lust for blood. The film quickly blossoms into a hybrid slasher and psychological drama.
According to the filmmakers and actresses, the making of The Descent was exciting, terrifying, and creatively fulfilling. With a desire to create fleshed-out characters and slowly build tension, writer-director Neil Marshall (who has since directed episodes of Game of Thrones and Westworld) brought his love for horror and his openness for collaboration to the set, and as millions of fans can attest, it worked.