The Cellar, 2022.
Written and Directed by Brendan Muldowney.
Starring Elisha Cuthbert, Eoin Macken, Abby Fitz, Dylan Fitzmaurice-Brady, Aaron Monaghan, Tara Lee, and Andrew Bennett.
Keira Woods’ 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.
Initially, writer and director Brendan Muldowney’s The Cellar uses the horror genre to play up a rift growing between mother and daughter. While Keira (Elisha Cuthbert) investigates the new family home for clues regarding the inexplicable disappearance of teenage daughter Ellie (Abby Fitz), she comes across one of many ancient symbols containing hidden meanings. One of them translates to “dissolve and coagulate,” which seems to function as a metaphor for this fractured relationship; if things are going to get any better, they must fall apart entirely, or in this case, Ellie must go missing to wake Keira up to her parenting mistakes.
Before it’s dropped, the intriguing juxtaposition here is that Keira’s job involves PR marketing for similarly aged social media influencer teenagers. Specifics are left vague, but it’s clear that Keira is more concerned with corporate meetings and appealing to her clients. Once Ellie disappears after heading down into the titular cellar to fix a blown fuse, the story shifts into the supernatural entirely (because no matter how distant and at odds they currently are, Keira remains headstrong that her daughter wouldn’t run away).
Meanwhile, Keira’s co-worker, her husband Brian (Eoin Macken), insists that everything will be fine and that all the strange symbols around their new home are for decoration. The Cellar also turns out to be one of those horror movies where characters constantly Google relevant information while dealing with several jump scare situations. The family also has a young boy named Steven (Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady), who doesn’t factor into much.
The Cellar is mostly a generic and boring exercise that slightly comes alive during the third act when mathematics and alternate dimensions uniquely come into play. The film doesn’t necessarily do much memorable visually or suspensefully, and the ending is lame, but the concept of inserting math into demonic rituals is mildly fun. Just don’t be surprised if you want to disappear from The Cellar after turning it on. Whatever the movie had intended to say about mother-daughter dynamics is also tossed into another dimension to focus on various clichés.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ / Movie: ★ ★
Robert Kojder is a member of the Chicago Film Critics Association and the Critics Choice Association. He is also the Flickering Myth Reviews Editor. Check here for new reviews, follow my Twitter or Letterboxd, or email me at MetalGearSolid719@gmail.com