Compiled by: Jack Foley
Q. Comparisons with Dog Soldiers are sure to follow.
But how do you view this - as a help or a hindrance?
A. In many ways, The Descent is the sister film to Dog
Soldiers. There are six women, rather than six men, trapped and
facing a common foe, but rather than bond together in the face
of adversity, they turn against each other and their relationships
Ever since we conceived of this script idea, there's been a running
joke that this film is about six chicks with picks, but that's
It is about six contemporary, adventurous women's physical descent
into the depths of the earth on a caving holiday that goes horribly
wrong, but it is also about a descent into madness.
Q. How did you decide to do a horror film set in a cave?
A. I thought it was a fantastic environment that had
barely been touched upon in horror films. It's the classic environment.
Horror films are best set in the dark and you can't get any darker
than that. I also wanted to do something with an all-female ensemble
cast which, in an action horror film, is quite unique.
Q. How did you find working with an all-female cast?
A. It has been an absolute dream. I confess that I went
into it cautiously, having worked with pretty much an all-male
ensemble cast on Dog Soldiers.
That was a blast, in the bar every night, and I managed to achieve
the same atmosphere of collaboration, and a good sense of fun,
and a good sense of professionalism, with everyone just mucking
These girls are game for anything and on-screen they're just mind-blowing;
a really, really solid bunch and it's been a dream to work with
Q. Can you talk about the 'crawlers'?
A. The crawlers are cave men that didn't leave the cave.
They've evolved in this environment, over thousands of years and
there's a community of them that live down there in families.
They've adapted perfectly to thrive in the cave. They've lost
their eyesight, they have acute hearing and smell, and they function
perfectly in the pitch black.
They're expert climbers, so they can go up any rock face and that
is their world. These girls infringe upon their world, and the
crawlers are simply defending their territory.
Q. And what was the inspiration
for the crawlers?
A. That came from the idea that if there were these creatures
living under ground, what would they be, where would they have
come from? Elements came into the story of finding a cave painting,
a prehistoric cave painting, so I thought 'OK, cave men. Well,
if they were cave men, what if they actually more human than not?'
Because, to me, making them more human makes them more scary.
They have human attributes and that's far more terrifying than
any fantastical creature.
Q. I believe you kept the crawlers away from the actresses
until the moment they were supposed to see them for the first
time on-screen. Is this true?
A. I made a deliberate point of keeping the crawlers
away from the girls until they encountered one in the script.
I wanted to see what the effect would be, and it really helped
build up the tension and anticipation.
They were getting really, really nervous about it. They didn't
know what to expect, they hadn't seen any pictures, they had no
idea what they were going to look like, and it was a lot of fun
playing around with that.
They got really on edge about it, so when we did the take and
introduced the crawlers, they just snapped and went running off
into the dark screaming.
For weeks they'd been building up this image of these really hard-assed,
tough as nails girls, and as soon as a crawler turns up, it's
hands in the air and running away like a big bunch of sissies!
Q. You obviously enjoy working within the horror genre?
A. Horror films are a lot of fun to make and a lot of
fun to watch audiences watching. Sitting among an audience watching
a good horror film and gauging their reaction, you can hear the
fear, you can hear the gasps and the jolts and the screams and
It's a very audible reaction that you get and that's very satisfying
from a film-maker's point of view. I just love scaring the pants
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