Cookies help us deliver our Services. By using our Services, you agree to our use of cookies. Learn More.

The Ending Of The Descent That You Never Got To See

Over a decade has passed since Neil Marshall unleashed "The Descent" on the world, and the film continues to terrorize horror movie lovers young and old. Set largely in an underground cave system, "The Descent" tells the tale of a deeply-traumatized woman named Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) who undertakes a caving adventure with a group of friends. Once underground, things go wrong in ways too gruesome to describe, with Marshall essentially delivering three different horror movies in one.

As most fans of "The Descent" know, the film debuted in the U.K. a full year before hitting American theaters in 2006. What you may not realize is that the original U.K. cut of the film features a completely different ending — one that U.S. distributers may have deemed too bleak and/or open-ended for American audiences. The U.S. cut essentially pits Sarah as the film's "final girl" as she survives the deadly perils of the cave and makes a harrowing escape, only to be haunted by her own vicious act of vengeance that gives the audience one last jump scare shocker.

Unless you've purchased the film on disc or checked out the alternate, unrated cut available on certain streaming services, you probably never got the chance to check out the director's vision for this movie's finale. The original ending of "The Descent" takes a much darker turn by adding a single scene after that jarring scare. 

Sarah's fate still inspires heated arguments

That scene depicts Sarah's escape as a mere fantasy; she is still deep in the cave, and the subterranean "crawlers" are closing in on her. In a truly heartbreaking twist, Sarah stares at the hallucination of her dead daughter and grins eerily. Almost 15 years after "The Descent" first terrified the masses, the debate continues about which ending is superior. A recent Dreadit thread proves this argument is as heated as ever, and a few fans prefer the divisive U.S. cut

Reddit user u/mac6uffin is clearly among them, making an intriguing case that the "happy" U.S. ending of "The Descent" is darker than the original. "The entire premise to me appears to boil down to one thing. If the protagonist survives, then that is the "happy" ending. Conversely, the protagonist dying is the "dark" ending. But I think living in this case is really hell for our protagonist."

u/lillie_connelly strongly disagreed with that take, arguing, "No, the last scene in the UK ending was very strong and evoked a sense of claustrophobia more than any other part of the movie – she might be out of it and ready to die but to see how after all that struggle she is so deep inside and so surrounded, it was effective for me," dismissing the U.S. ending as "cheesy." 

Though many comments argue against u/mac6uffin's read, u/diamondedges says, "Agreed, didn't care for the original ending, it felt like too much of a cheat to me." Debate over the preferred ending of "The Descent" will likely continue as new fans discover the film and its differing takes on Sarah's fate.