13 Horror Movie Heroines That Kick Butt

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Sarah Carter (Shauna Macdonald) in The Descent (Image via Lionsgate)

9.) Sarah Carter (The Descent)

If one woman is not enough of a lead character, then how about six? In The Descent, Sarah Carter (Shauna Macdonald) is one of a team of women who descend into an Appalachian cave system to indulge in some spelunking adventures.

Sarah has had a hard go of things recently. Following a previous kayaking trip with her friends, her husband Paul and young daughter Jessica are killed in a traumatic car accident. Years later, Sarah learns that Paul had cheated on her with Juno, who is now leading the same group of friends through an unmapped cave system. The news is delivered by Beth, who happens to be dying of a pickaxe-induced neck wound. Sarah’s friends, it could be said, have a poor sense of timing.

Of course, you may not want to blame her entirely. At the point in the movie where Juno confesses, the group has already been decimated by a mysterious group of monsters. Their exit has been blocked by a rockfall, and Juno reveals that they’re in an unknown section of the cave, making rescue nearly impossible. It’s bad enough that Juno has led them into danger without any real precautions, but now these pale, humanoid creatures (called “crawlers” in the film credits) are stalking them.

Depending on the version of The Descent that you’re watching, Sarah either survives or is left to fend off yet more crawlers at the end. Whether or not she makes it, The Descent is extraordinary in part because of its casting. Apart from the doomed Paul, no other men appear in the film.