Grimmfest Easter 2022: The Cellar review

Elisha Cuthbert as Keira, Abby Fitz as Ellie - The Cellar - Photo Credit: Shudder
Elisha Cuthbert as Keira, Abby Fitz as Ellie - The Cellar - Photo Credit: Shudder /

Elisha Cuthbert (House of Wax) makes her highly-anticipated return to horror cinema in The Cellar, a haunted house flick from writer and director Brendan Mulroney.

The Cellar follows Keira Woods (Elisha Cuthbert) after her daughter, Ellie (Abby Fitz), mysteriously vanishes into the cellar below their new house. This sets Keira on a collision course with the ancient and powerful entity that controls the house, one that puts her family’s souls at risk of being lost.

Adapted from Brendan Mulroney’s 2004 short film The Ten Steps, The Cellar certainly feels, at times, that it could have easily stayed at the original’s length of ten minutes. A good portion of the film feels like filler that is ultimately just there to pad the plot to reach the film’s 94-minute runtime.

Plotwise, The Cellar isn’t really anything new, nor does it have anything new to bring to the haunted house/demonic presence subgenre. Viewers will certainly roll their eyes when the characters say they’ve bought this huge house for next to nothing, something we’ve seen time and time again, from Amityville to American Horror Story. The only real difference between this film and other films of the genre is that this time we’ve left America and are now in Ireland.

The Cellar
Abby Fitz as Ellie – The Cellar – Photo Credit: Shudder /

There’s an interesting subplot that does feel as if it could have gone somewhere, but the lack of payoff makes it feel more like filler than anything else. Keira and her husband are working in social media marketing on what seems to be a rather bizarre campaign. Alongside this, the campaign is targeting teenage girls, so you might think that their teenage daughter would make the perfect candidate to bounce their ideas off. This is not the case, however, with Ellie shunning the kind of girls their marketing firm seems to be targeting.

Following her disappearance, Ellie’s parents also discover she was being bullied over social media, and that her social media presence reveals things she’s been keeping secret from her parents. It feels like the film has wasted an opportunity with the social media side of things that could have gone somewhere unique and interesting. Instead, we end with a kind of run-of-the-mill demonic presence film.

What The Cellar lacks in substance, though, it makes up for in acting.

Despite not being present for much of the film, Abby Fitz’s performance is truly amazing in those scenes in which she does appear. Both Fitz and Cuthbert bring a lot to their roles, portraying the fraught relationship between mother and daughter; a relationship that, despite their difficulties, is truly the heart of the film, with Keira willing to go to hell and back for her daughter.

While the rest of the cast is certainly talented, the characters of Keira’s husband Brian (Eoin Macken) and their son Steven (Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady) remain rather underutilized by the story. Brian never really develops much further than the role of the skeptic, as Keira attempts to convince him that something supernatural is at play.

The Cellar is ultimately a film for those who love their cinematography more than their plot. With eerie shots of the cellar throughout the film, and striking visuals of the house and surrounding area, it’s clear this was filmed in a beautiful location, another thing that has been underutilized by the plot.

While the plot is rather formulaic, The Cellar still makes for an alright watch, one that would be perfect for newcomers to the genre.

The Cellar is showing at Grimmfest Easter on 15 April and will arrive on Shudder on the same day.

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Does The Cellar sound interesting to you? If you have had a chance to watch it, tell us what you thought of it in the comments section.