GORE IN THE STORE
THE CELLAR **
Directed by Brendan Muldowney.
Starring Elisha Cuthbert, Eoin Mackey, Abby Fitz.
Horror, Ireland, 94 minutes.
Reviewed as part of Frightfest Glasgow ‘22
Streaming on Shudder 15th April
The Irish Tourist Board can’t be too happy with this current wave of horror films that are springing forth from the country just now. Vampires, shapeshifters and witches run rampant through the nation if the slate of films that recently played Glasgow FrightFest are to be believed. On top of all that we can now add a gateway to Hell to the list of things to be avoided on the island thanks to THE CELLAR, the tale of a family’s house move made all the worse by the presence of such a portal in their large homes cellar.
When the Woods family move into their large country house, purchased at auction for a bargain, it isn’t too long until they discover why they got the house for such a low price. The first trip to the titular cellar results in teenage daughter Ellie getting mysteriously locked inside. Later during a power cut when babysitting for her little brother Ellie, must make another trip to restore the electricity after a power cut and soon vanishes without a trace. Her mother, Keira, knowing that Abby was acting out of character while speaking to her on the phone immediately before the event, begins to investigate the cellar herself. Becoming suspicious and intrigued with the mysterious equations and symbols that are scattered throughout the house, Keira unveils the mysterious history of her new home and takes it upon herself to rescue her daughter.
Despite a few moments of intrigue sprinkled intermittently throughout, much of THE CELLAR plays out in a very familiar fashion. Whether it is the premise itself, the direction (lots of overhead drone shots of cars driving through country roads) or the characters (yet another teenage daughter who sneers at everything her parents do) there is very little that is original or fresh here. There is an interesting angle involving mathematics being used to access dimensions that never gets beyond the superficial expository level. The subplot involving Kiera’s job as a social media consultant seems to hint at the power of meme imagery, linking it to the symbology of the magic rituals associated with the cellar, but it is never delved into or explored in any way.
Elisha Cuthbert’s character of Kiera is present throughout but despite the actors’ best efforts she really cannot bring anything more to her character than what the basic script has given her. There is a complete lack of conflict and very little drama throughout despite the supernatural events surrounding the disappearance of a teenage gir; Kiera and her husband get straight back to work the minute after her disappearance showing next to no concern. For a horror film everything here feels very safe. The chilly wintry atmosphere evoked through the photography is the films strongest point but that can only go so far. THE CELLAR is not a complete disaster in any sense but there is very little here to mark it out from the large number of similar films in its field.