The End of the Movie "Descent"

by Lawrence Koenig
Using the claustrophobic atmosphere of an unexplored cave, The Descent capitalizes on our fear of the unknown.

Using the claustrophobic atmosphere of an unexplored cave, The Descent capitalizes on our fear of the unknown. Images

In director/writer Neil Marshall's 2005 film, six women become trapped while on a spelunking adventure and are subject to horrors beyond their reckoning. One of the women, Sarah, is traumatized by the recent death of her husband and daughter in a tragic car accident. The film follows her journey through their ordeal and her own descent into madness.


Sarah is on a river rafting trip with two of her friends, Juno and Beth. While on their journey, they see a man and a little girl standing on the side of the river. They turn out to be Sarah's husband and daughter. While they're disembarking, Sarah catches a look that passes between her husband and Juno, and she begins to suspect them of having an affair. Before the issue can be addressed, however, Sarah, her husband and her daughter are involved in a horrible accident that results in the death of both her husband and daughter.

The Cave

A year or so later, Beth, Sarah and Juno decide to go on another outdoor adventure, this time engaging in spelunking of a beginner's cave. They meet up with three other friends who are coming along: Holly, an experienced Sam, and Becca, who is Sam's younger sister and a doctor in training. The night before their exploration begins, Sarah seems a bit distant from the chatter and eventually ends the conversation by using a phrase her husband used to say: "Love each day." Later when they become trapped in the caverns, it comes to light that Juno owns a bracelet with this saying.

U.S. Ending

After being disoriented and in the dark for several hours, one by one the women begin to perish. They soon realize that they're not in a beginner's cave, but underground in a cavern that contains bones of all sorts of animals--including humans--and that they're being pursued by creatures they designate as "crawlers," cannibal cavemen who didn't evolve. Sarah is the last person out of the cave, and when she leaves the cabin, she has to pull the car over to be sick. When she comes back up, seated beside her is the now-dead Juno. Sarah screams, and the film ends.

U.K. Ending

The U.K. ending continues from this moment on with Sarah's screaming. Suddenly, she awakens, realizing that she has never left the cave. She sees her little daughter sitting in front of her with a birthday cake, but when the angle changes we see that it's all in Sarah's imagination. Meanwhile, all around her we hear the Crawlers' voices as they screech and scream on their way to take their final piece of prey. The audience is left wondering how much of the film was in her imagination, and how much was real.

About the Author

Lawrence Koenig has been a technical writer since 1988. His expertise includes the U.S. military, hospitality and transportation industries. Koenig holds a Bachelor of Science in literature from Oral Roberts University and he is pursuing a Master of in Education.

Photo Credits

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