You know…you MIGHT not want to go down there…
Now on Blu-Ray, The Cellar is an understated slow burn of a creepy thriller that is worried less about any sort of visceral scares and more about quietly getting underneath your skin when you least expect it.
Keira Woods’ (Elisha Cuthbert) daughter mysteriously vanishes in the cellar of their new house. She 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.
While The Cellar hits more in the realm of something that is very aware of building atmosphere rather than establishing any kind of bad guy and it’s roped together with some stellar production design and a performance that makes us believe the foreboding presence underneath the floorboards.
As writer/director Brendan Muldowney crafts the narrative using some fairly familiar beats you will think that The Cellar is just another by the numbers creepy affair in the early going, but it will reward you the more it goes on.
Through some fantastic photography and the gothic setting of an old mansion in the Irish countryside, we get a slow build of something insidious and truly unsettling inside this house. Yes the beats of the story are a little cookie cutter at times, but Muldowney executes them all with a mastery that is rarely seen in a filmmaker of any level. With all apologies to my favourite professional wrestler when I was a kid, but The Cellar is a fantastic example of excellence of execution, particularly for a genre film on a budget. Muldowney knew to let the evil force to grow in the mind of the audience rather than try to deliver on a reveal that would be nearly impossible to pay off on.
Canada’s own Elisha Cuthbert does what just might be some of the best work of her career here as a mother of two looking forward to a life in her new home only to have it all unfurl around her. She never plays it for hysterics but with calm and logic as a strong independent woman who knows how to get things done. Eoin Macken is solid as her husband but no one else really gets any kind of character development in this one, granted that don’t really need it as Cuthbert carries the weight of it all admirably but it would have been nice to be a little more invested in the daughter and the family that she’s ultimately trying to save.
Picture and sound quality on the Blu-Ray are actually quite solid and the special features include interviews with the cast and crew which are interesting but nothing more than your basic EPK stuff, some examples of VFX shots before and after and how they used very little to really amplify mood a feature length commentary track from the director and producer and The Ten Steps short film along with commentary that inspired The Cellar.
While it’s not a movie that will surprise anyone; The Cellar is a quality little ride that will get under your skin when you give it a chance to.