Horror movies: Caves and Tunnels are creepy

I am planing this list for a while now because some of my favorite movies involve tight underground spaces. The reason is simple: claustrophobia is wide-spread, darkness is horrible and everything underground always counts as a metaphor for burials, death and hell, so if that’s not enough for horror movies, I don’t know what is.

As usual: I try to avoid heavy spoilers but I will talk about the plot, so there might be some spoilers out of a necessity. “Is good” might be enough for Czernobogh but it’s not enough for me.

Oh and: be careful with the trailers. Usually, trailers have massive spoilers when it comes to horror movies. So watch at your own risk.

The Tunnel (2011)

I love this movie. This was pretty special since people could download it for free and legally on BitTorrent, as far as I can recall which was a major marketing move back in the days when pirating was such a big thing.

“The Tunnel” plays in Australia, is a found footage movie covering a report on homeless people sleeping in abandoned subway tunnels. The TV crew wants to find out why so many homeless people in the tunnels have been vanishing.

I make it short: the acting is great, the pace is impeccable, the plot is fantastic, I love it.

The Descent (2005)

This – as of now – is a classic for horror fans. This movie about a trip of girlfriends (some less friendly to each other than others) who go cave climbing is one hell of a ride. It starts incredibly slow but when it gets going, it doesn’t stop. Personally, I am not the biggest fan of the big bad because … well, it’s not as unique once you’ve seen a few underground horror movies. But I give it a pass because everything else is amazing.

Plus, the sequel – as far as I can remember – is weirdly good for a sequel.

As above, so below (2014)

This movie is about a documentary crew trying to film the catacombs of Paris (which in themselves are super creepy). To literally no one’s surprise, things get awry.

I am on the fence with this movie because I really enjoy it, I watch it regularly but it’s not really that scary. Then again, when I think about the plot, I start to like it more, so it’s one of those movies where the story is so good that it somewhat holds up the sometimes lackluster visuals.

Catacombs (2007)

Speaking of the Parisian catacombs, there’s another movie about them and for too long I thought these two were the same after watching this one, missing out on the other. This, for one, is not about a film crew. It’s about sisters that get lost in the party scene in Paris and end up in the catacombs because apparently, that’s what happens whenever you go clubbing in a bigger city (see also “Urban Explorer” which plays in Berlin and is really bad, so better don’t see also).

Oh, and I totally forgot that PINK plays a role in this. How random.

In Darkness We Fall (2014)

This Spanish horror movie (without any supernatural elements, I am afraid) starts so douchey that I nearly turned it off. However, the promise of a strong finale sold me. This is survivor horror with a very tense, claustrophobic camera work, an amazing setting (I wonder how they filmed some of the scenes without endangering themselves) and a convincingly awful cast of protagonists. The story is super simple: a group of friends finds a cave, enters it for fun and gets lost in it.

For all the underground horror, this nails cave climbing in its tight spaces, the disorienting surroundings and the problems of a place where everything looks the same and the lack of daylight can cause you to lose any sense of time and space. The acting might not be the finest and I would have wished for some better characters but still, the atmosphere is amazing.

Alien vs. Predator (2004)

Ok, this movie is not scary at all, but geez, it is such a fun romp! I love the fact that Lars Hendricksen is in it, I love the absurdly fitting plot, the protagonist “Alexa”, the special effects are pretty nifty and the pace is great for an Action movie. All in all, this movie mixes some of the best parts of the Predator- and Alien-franchise (minus the first one which was more Thriller than Action horror and is the best). I liked it, despite every fibre of my being wanting to hate it.

Mediocre mentions:

The Pyramid: an archeologist and his daughter together with a film crew enter a newly discovered pyramid that turns out to be a sacrificial tomb.

There’s some rampant sexism at the beginning of the movie and the acting is not very good. The same goes for the special effects and the story, so all in all, this is a good one-time watch but not more than that.

The Cave: a team of cave divers and some scientists try to explore a newly discovered cave for scienc-y reasons.

I wanted to like this movie but it’s so boring at times, the pacing is completely off. I would say that this is the poor man’s “The Descent”.

Book recommendations:

If you like reading about caves, Sarah Lotz’s “The White Road” is about cave diving and mountain climbing and – I have no know-how on either subjects – seems to be researched quite well. Especially the cave parts are written very dark, confusing and pretty tense. Lotz in general is a great read for modern writing with good world building because of all the minute details she puts into all her books.

More horror movie lists with varying quality can be found here, click, enjoy the selections and even find some horror-themed music playlists, booray!

16 thoughts on “Horror movies: Caves and Tunnels are creepy

  1. I’ve watched two of those, and you might be surprised, but I have opinions:
    Alien vs Predator: I think you meant 2004.
    The Descent: Good grief this movie. When I decided to watch it I thought ‘Well, it sure would be difficult to not make a gripping horror movie with this premise”, but damn they did their best, they gave everything, they used every trick and spared no expence and by God they did it! Congratulations The Descent.


    1. Ah, yes, thanks for the correction (I don’t know whether I would like it as much for a 2014 movie – 2004 was a different time).
      The Descent is not my favorite or even one of my favorites but it’s solid, especially for people who don’t watch that many horror movies and therefore might be more excited about the design choices. I also like personal drama that has nothing to do with the horror.
      Our ill-fitting tastes in horror movies would make for a good podcast, by the way.

      Liked by 1 person

      1. I’d certainly be open to do a podcast together via skype or something. Maybe gkrmbl, Maike and Dr. Atomreisfleisch would join us. Such fun!
        But before you agree, you should know that I also like personal drama that has nothing to with the horror. Wouldn’t want to lure you into such a commitment under false pretenses.


      2. Hm. Since I did public radio for numerous years, I know that personal drama on air is rather unpleasant (at least for me). I am more the person you invite to have a fun conversation with than a heated argument with accusations flying high. Also: do gkrmbl, Maike and Dr. Atomreisfleisch like horror movies?

        Liked by 1 person

      3. To be quite frank, it is difficult to develop personal drama with me, so you’d really have to try. Can’t make any promises for the others, though. But I’m sure they like horror movies. Everyone does, right?


      4. I have yet to find a friend who will watch them with me. My mom is the only person who also likes them (I guess, she might have been responsible for my love of all things horror). For some reason, all my closer friends don’t like them, including my partner.

        Liked by 1 person

      5. That’s rather strange. I’d offer, but the physical distance makes it seem rather unpractical. We could, though, make an appointment to watch together in a chat or on Twitter or something. Like that online-watch-chat-thing people used to do once! I even did it in my blog! It was fun. Well. Kind of.


      6. Kind-of-fun is a horrible sell. That’s like my favourite SNL-sketch, “Almost Pizza”. https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=KLHRjaUBb3o

        But yeah, maybe a Twitter-one-thread-movie-watch would be almost fun. But it has to be a mediocre movie because I won’t waste a good movie being distracted trying to come up with witty comments. And as you already mentioned it, you can provide the link to your blog-experiment for closure if you’d like to (and so I don’t have to search for it).


      7. Oh wow, that’s ANCIENT! And the link still works, that’s unheard of. That looks like a lot of almost fun, because the interface is so clean!


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