The Descent‘s scares come by means of creatures referred to as Crawlers. They are stealth and ruthless hunters who torment a group of women for the majority of the film. The Descent offers little explanation for the creatures, but an origin for the species has since surfaced online since the film’s 2005 release.

After a tragic accident, Sarah travels to North Carolina to spend time exploring caves with her friends. They descend to an underground cave and find evidence of a prior expedition gone wrong. Soon enough, the women realize they are not alone. In one of the scariest moments in modern horror, they realize they’re being stalked by a pack of super-strong and fast humanoids. The group fights for their lives as they attempt to find a way out of the cave.

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The Crawlers amplify The Descent from a simple drama to a downright scary horror film. By leaving their origin story simple and vague, the creatures become even more terrifying. Without an origin, they’re chaotic and unpredictable — that makes them the ultimate predator. Here’s an explanation of The Descent‘s monsters.

The Descent’s Crawlers Explained

The cave system that the women in The Descent come across is believed to be largely unexplored. In fact, one woman in the group selects that particular cave so the friends could discover something new together. The group finds a series of cave paintings, which leads them to believe that they are the first people to descend upon the cave in centuries. That means the Crawlers have had zero contact with humans since then. They’ve bred and evolved in the dark. They’re supposed to be thought of as cavemen who never left the caves – monsters that nobody would ever want to actually come across, if they existed in real life.

Since they have had zero exposure to light, the creatures are completely blind. They adapted to life in caves, so they have the strength and agility to scale the cave walls with great speed. While they don’t have intelligence levels beyond that of animals, they are smart enough to work together in packs to take down their prey.

It’s unclear what the Crawlers’ motivation in stalking the women are, aside from simple bloodlust. It’s clear that coming across these explorers awoke something within the creatures. In the US-only ending of the film, Sarah manages to escape the monsters with her life, but her problems are far from over. The Descent‘s followup, The Descent Part 2, takes place immediately after the events of the first movie. The authorities order Sarah to take them back down in the cave to verify what happened to her friends. But if what happened in The Descent, is any indication, the Crawlers will be anxiously awaiting fresh meat in future installations of the horror series.

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