The mind can play tricks on us, and Neil Marshall’s The Descent hints at this throughout its 100 minutes. As 6 women end up trapped in a cave, it seems they are alternately at odds with each other. They are also frequently attacked by underground, humanoid creatures called “crawlers.” So there’s personal drama, monsters, and also the frightening task of escaping an uncharted cave with limited equipment. That’s a formula for disaster, and also for mental breakdown. The Descent does a good job of highlighting how nature sort of screwed us by making us intellectually and emotionally intelligent. Sometimes we “lose it” precisely when we need to have it all together.

Sarah’s Mental Collapse: An Interesting Theory

“Crazy fan theories” can be annoying sometimes, no doubt about. However, the idea that Sarah (Shauna Macdonald) basically snaps and imagines the monsters is too tasty to overlook. In fact, one needn’t have the film so fresh in mind to see the possibilities and recall how there are strong hints of her subtle mental state. It also potentially makes it a monster movie without true monsters, if one wishes to see things this way. It becomes far more of a psychological thriller/adventure-horror story. Just imagine Sarah going nuts and killing all her fellow explorers, due to her fragile condition.

The Complexity of Two Endings

The Descent has two different endings: The U.S. ending and the UK ending. Frankly, the U.S. ending isn’t that great and doesn’t pair well with this article premise. The UK version, on the other hand, lends considerable weight to the prospect of Sarah’s diminished sanity. At first, she imagines (or vividly hallucinates) escaping the cave. While that’s not the craziest thing of all time, it’s a sign that one’s mind isn’t at 100% reality-level. Then, of course, Sarah sees her daughter (Molly Kayll) is also in the cave, along with a birthday cake. Well, it turns out she’s only there with a flashlight, her sadness, and her fear. Or is she alone? She seems to have crawlers around her, ready to lunge at any time and end her time in the cave.

However, if these crawlers truly are imaginary for her, why does she see them so vividly? Well, trauma may be able to work that way for some people. After all, the cave escape was vivid enough for the character. It could be that she lost her mind and started killing off her entourage. Perhaps the craziest thing is that, honestly, such a thing may be plausible.

People truly are fully capable of imagining things that aren’t there, and of acting upon 100% bonkers beliefs. Could being trapped in a cave bring such delusions out to the forefront? Of course! So, at the end of the day, this little fan theory is not only less annoying than others but actually has some plausibility. It probably even makes the movie look smarter because plenty of new questions can emerge. Basically, this theory is not so very crazy, and The Descent isn’t just about a descent into some cave.

What are your thoughts on The Descent and this interesting theory? Let us know in the comments!

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Wade Wanio is an author.

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