The Descent is one of this century’s best horror movies, its story of six adventurers and the vicious beasts they encounter in a perilous cave system drawing horror from the environment as much as the monsters. Now, Neil Marshall’s 2006 gorefest functions perfectly fine as an emotionally-charged creature feature, but if you like your horror more cerebral you might enjoy the above video, which breaks down in painstaking detail an alternate read of the events that have been swirling around the internet for a while now.
The film begins with protagonist Sarah losing her husband, Paul, and their daughter in a car accident, and subsequent revelations reveal that her friend Juno was sleeping with Paul in the time leading up to his death. It’s a year later when Sarah links up with her pals for their cave-dwelling adventure, which she embarks upon despite being heavily medicated and wracked with the residual trauma. At its most base level, the theory argues that the “crawlers” they encounter are not real, but rather the manifestation of Sarah’s own psychotic break. She kills her friends, not the monsters.
That Film Theory’s breakdown, however, provides ample support for this theory, drawing upon everything from the title card to the number of candles on the birthday cake in her visions to a scream that sounds decidedly different depending upon who’s hearing it. It’s the best kind of theory in that it’s there if you want to engage with the film on that level, but also easily ignorable if you just want to enjoy the film for its surface thrills, which, as we’ll continue to stress, are quite thrilling.