Filmed on location in Roscommon, Ireland, The Cellar, a horror mystery film sitting squarely in the haunted house subgenre, tells the story of Keira Woods (Cuthbert), whose daughter mysteriously vanishes in the cellar of their new house in the country. Keira soon discovers there is an ancient and powerful entity controlling their home that she will have to face or risk losing her family’s souls forever.
The Cellar is written and directed by Brendan Muldowney and stars the talents of Elisha Cuthbert and Eoin Macken. The film featured at the SXSW Festival and has been well received by Fight Fest and a few others. The film follows the Woods family as they move into an old house in the country much to the delight of the younger son, Steven (Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady), and to the dismay of their troublesome teen daughter, Ellie (Abby Fitz). Something tragic occurs on the first evening which sets our film on a downward spiral-esque mystery to solve the disappearance of Ellie and the mystical forces behind it.
While not necessarily a slow-burn, there is definitely a lack of pacing during the first act of the film. Sure, Ellie’s disappearance is under mysterious circumstances and we get a nice build up of mystery and suspense with little in the way of hints or clues as to what has happened unless you happened to have watched the trailer before the film (Which I wouldn’t suggest as it’s one of those trailers that simply condenses the film’s plot.). The film slowly builds towards it’s second act with Keira coming across as the paranoid madwoman as she starts to try and piece together the incredibly obscure clues strewn about the old house, which is always fun for me as I enjoy a good esoteric mystery. It does—in all fairness—take a while before the film finds its footing though, which could be a dealbreaker for those addicted to faster-paced cinema.
Once the film does reveal its big bad and all the surrounding mysteries, we get what is best described as a traditional haunted house film with its own spin on the esoteric by adding sacred geometry, multiple dimensions, quantum mechanics, and other strange offerings that don’t traditionally mesh well together—although the film does make it work in its own strange way. Sure, it’s weird and not very well explained, but with enough suspension of disbelief you can easily just ride the “Sure, why not?” wave and enjoy the film for what it is. We even get some great special effects and some Insidious (2010) style otherworldly encounters.
I, personally, really enjoyed the film. Sure, it’s not going to jump into my top ten anytime soon, but it made for a good evening and even though the film starts intentionally slow, the final act is absolute madness and worth the wait. It is a lot of fun so long as you don’t go into it expecting all of the mathematical and magical elements to make sense. And I got to see one of my favourite entities as the featured big bad, which probably made me a little biased as I totally have a soft spot for that awesomely evil archfiend.
Craig Engler, GM of Shudder stated that:
“The Cellar is a riveting story that we think will appeal to both horror lovers and broader audiences alike, and we’re delighted to work with RLJE Films to bring it to the widest possible audience, Brendan and this talented team have crafted a dark and haunting tale that we’re excited to share with audiences this April.”
The Cellar Will Stream on Shudder on April 15th with a Day-and-Date Theatrical Release Through RLJE Films. Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. Artwork and trailer below.
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