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Why The Descent Is A Horror Movie Best Watched In Silence

"The Descent" is easily one of the most nerve-wracking horror movies of the 2000s — a claustrophobic nightmare where things can't seem to get any worse for the characters until they absolutely do. The film takes place in the aftermath of a car crash where Sarah's husband and daughter were killed. A year later, the still grieving Sarah (Shauna MacDonald) and her friends Juno (Natalie Mendoza), Beth (Alex Reid), Sam (MyAnna Buring), Rebecca (Saskia Mulder), and Holly (Nora-Jane Noone) come together in the Appalachians for a trip spelunking in the caverns. Unfortunately, when the group moves through a narrow passage in one of the mountain caves, the exit collapses and leaves them trapped. Things escalate when Holly breaks her leg, and the extremely tight conditions begin to get to everyone. And that's all before the pale humanoid creatures show up. 

It's quite the thrill ride of a horror movie, but "The Descent" really demands to be watched in silence instead of mocking the characters or chatting through the plot. Here's why.

The monsters in The Descent use sound to attack

One big reason viewers should really see "The Descent" without distractions or too much noise is the "crawlers," the creepy flesh-eating creatures who live in the cave and begin attacking the women. The crawlers are used to the dark, so they're blind and hunt entirely by sound. The characters thus spend a lot of time in cramped spaces while trying not to make any noise or movements, terrified the crawlers will hear them. The tense conditions of the movie really demand a captive audience who can identify with the fear of Sarah and Beth.

It's also a movie with emotional arcs between characters that need a lot of attention. One of the biggest twists isn't just the crawlers attacking, but also Juno accidentally killing Beth, which leads to Sarah discovering that Juno had an affair with her husband before he died. These reveals are often understated and silent but are extremely powerful, building up to the brutal confrontation between Sarah and Juno near the end of the film. Ultimately, the Neil Marshall movie requires a lot from the audience, but that speaks to what makes it so riveting more than fifteen years after it was first released.

You can currently stream "The Descent" on Tubi and IMDb TV.