Incorporating different emotions and ideas into a cohesive tale, “The Cellar” uses classic storytelling to scare and intrigue its audience.
After making its world premiere at SXSW, The Cellar arrives on Shudder.
The Irish horror movie is about the Woods family. The four have moved into a spacious home in Ireland. Young Ellie (Abby Fitz) is immediately wary of the new home. Some of it is due to her having to leave her friends, but she is bothered by something else.
When she disappears, her mother Kiera (Elisha Cuthbert) learns that the strange symbols on the wall are not merely there for decoration.
The movie has the feel of a ghost story told at a sleepover. There is little gore, and jump scares are never a big part of The Cellar.
(Director Brendan Muldowney said the film includes, “The slowest jump scare ever.” He’s right, but it is also a great moment.)
This is a movie that is all about atmosphere.
The fact that much of The Cellar takes place in a large spooky house adds to the atmosphere.
Haunted houses have long been a staple of horror. They are a fantastic setting that just about everyone will be able to relate to. Unlike other films in the sub-genre, the action is not just confined to the home. This means it does not have the same claustrophobic feeling that is often found in these types of movies.
Instead, Muldowney focuses on an overall mood.
Much like a campfire tale, the plot draws audiences in with strong characters and situations. The Cellar does not keep people guessing where the next scare is coming from. It is more about weaving its dark tale.
As more aspects of the house’s history are revealed, the story becomes more sinister.
The film is straightforward in its storytelling. There are no out of left field twists are departures from the script.
Instead, The Cellar shocks with its revelations.
This is especially true in the movie’s hectic final act.
Many stories of the supernatural involve trying to figure out what exactly is going on. In a unique and clever bit of writing, The Cellar uses math as a focal point in the storytelling. Long considered the Devil’s most twisted creation, math still does not factor into many horror movies.
When The Cellar first introduces the idea, it almost comes out of nowhere. It is not long before it is intertwined into the narrative in a way that makes sense.
The idea — along with the introduction of a familiar, yet underused, villain — adds to the classic feel.
Bringing everything together is the chemistry between Cuthbert and co-star Eoin Macken. Since The Cellar was filmed during COVID, the two had a unique opportunity to get familiar with each other. This translates on screen as they play off each other brilliantly.
While The Cellar is a horror movie, there is a mystery aspect to it also.
The driving force behind the plot is the search for the missing Ellie. Along with the terror that comes with dark rituals, the parents are also desperate. This plays out in many scenes in which the tension between the two characters jumps off the screen.
Though it may sound like there is a lot happening, it’s handled remarkably well, culminating in a compelling and captivating story well worth exploring.