Keira Wood (Elisha Cuthbert) moves into a new home along with her husband Brian (Eion Macken) and their two children, Ellie (Abby Fitz) and Steven (Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady). The house looks like an old mansion and is, as Keira’s daughter, Ellie, describes it, an extremely ugly house. As the family walk around the home for the first time, we learn that Keira and her daughter Ellie have friction within their relationship. Ellie continually voices her opinion, which usually goes against Keira’s direction. Central to Ellie’s unhappiness is that they only moved because it suited Keira and Brian for work.
As the family settle in, they notice several strange occurrences, including numbers, symbols and other markings around the house. Steven (the youngest member of the family) even heard a rumour that the old house once belonged to a witch who sold her soul to the devil. One night while Keira and Brian are attending work meetings, Ellie is babysitting her little brother. The power suddenly goes out, and Ellie will need to restore the power to the home. The power box is in the cellar underneath the house, but something disturbing happens when Ellie enters the dark cellar, and she disappears. Ellie is now a missing person, and her family is baffled. Keira begins to investigate her daughter’s disappearance despite many people around the community suggesting Ellie has just run away from home. Through her investigation, Keira will learn more about a possible evil entity within the home linked to Ellie’s disappearance. Can Keira find her daughter and protect her other family members before the ultimate evil takes control?
Written and directed by Brendan Muldowney, who has previously directed films such as Pilgrimage, The Cellar is best described as a slow-burning horror film. It’s slow with its storytelling, and the film enjoys building each scene up with many mysterious elements or tension. As for the plot, The Cellar is enjoyable, but it’s not overly different to anything horror fans have seen before, especially when compared to films from the 90s. The film goes through typical horror beats and paces, but slower than I prefer. The third act has moments of exciting and creative visuals, but sadly the act feels vague and somewhat rushed. Despite this, like most horror films, I found myself invested in the story and keen to know the outcomes.
When it comes to visuals, The Cellar has many moments that feel highly satisfying, especially when it comes to the atmosphere and locations. The large house itself even sometimes feels like it has come to life. The director is clearly having fun with many horror aspects as the characters question everything around them. The sound effects are pleasing, creating creepiness, especially from the large house. It’s great watching characters investigate while elements like lights flicker and other noises can be heard, even if it’s just subtle.
It’s no secret that actress Elisha Cuthbert is no stranger to the horror genre, previously working on the remake of The Wax House, released in 2005. Naturally, I was excited to see this actress return to this genre. Performances, for the most part, are fine. Actress Elisha Cuthbert is a joy as she tackles another horror film, and the actress is certainly doing everything she can with the script. Still, I can’t deny some aspects of the leading family and their interactions are hard to accept, and they are not always convincing.
Overall, while The Cellar isn’t an overly fresh horror movie, it still has some worthy and enjoyable elements. Positives include seeing actress Elisha Cuthbert return to the horror genre and witnessing creative moments such as the large spooky house coming to life. At the same time, while the third act carries some excitement, the film ends vague and rushed. In the end, The Cellar feels familiar but still carries some entertainment for those who love a good, old-fashioned horror movie set in a spooky old mansion.