Movie Review: The Cellar

April 22, 2022  •  Leave a Comment

thecellarthecellar Released: April 2022
Director/Writer: Brendan Muldowney
Starring: Elisha Cuthbert, Eoin Macken

The Cellar has the makings of a decent horror movie: family buy a house in a picturesque countryside with no visible neighbours and a creepy ass cellar. 

What makes this movie different? They added maths. 

The Woods family bought a house in an auction for a bargain and being your typical white family in a horror movie it never occurs to them to find out why the house is so cheap. If a house for sale seems to good to be true it's probably because someone died there but I don't know a single person who would even buy a house without inspecting it first. 

Straight up there's tension between Kiera and her teenage daughter Ellie, presumably just your average asshole teen but she hates the house and wants no part of it so of course it thrills her no end to hear the parentals are going in to work and leaving her home alone with her little brother on their first night. The work that just couldn't wait until the next day? Discussing hiring an actress to pretend to be a vlogger to sell their product to teenagers on social media. This is everything that's wrong with the world and I hate them already. 

While Ellie is on the phone with a friend, her younger brother Steven sneaks up behind her in a black cloak and a rams skull that he found in a secret room which also happens to have an abacus and a gramophone. Amazingly, Ellie actually knew how to turn it on without the help of Google, and it played a recording of some math equation and counting 1..2..3..4..5 until 10 when she turns it off and sends Steven to bed. 

While watching a movie, a gust of wind comes from the cellar down and the lights all go out. Scared, Ellie rings her mum who bluntly tells her she needs to go into the cellar to check the fuze box. Her hot tip to fight the fear - count. There's 10 steps so count until she reaches the bottom. Simple enough unless you're in the cellar of doom. So with each step Ellie counts 1...2...3...4 until 10 when something changes and she continues counting. Finally the parentals head home and Ellie is nowhere to be found. 

From there Kiera starts noticing things around the house, things she would have noticed had she checked the damn house out before buying it. Things like roman numerals on the cellar steps with an equation at the bottom, weird symbols above all of the doors and on the painting in the main room - symbols that turn out to be Hebrew glyphs that when put in a certain order spell Leviathan, and when the cellar is dark and you drop a thing, its definitely falling much further than 10 steps. Even while listening to the gramophone counting and hearing her son start to count in the next room, it doesn't seem to make much of a connection in her brain because she does it again later in the film as we watch her son count his way into the cellar. Seriously, one kid has already gone missing and it's amazing how often the other is out of her sight.

During all this Kiera makes a quick visit to the local college of mathematics where she meets a maths genius who tells her the guy who owned their house was also a math genius and was a colleague of Schrodinger and we get the "the cat is in the box but it's neither dead or alive til we see inside" talk and I'm 100% convinced this was thrown in just to sound smarter. The guy does let her know the equation seems to be a representation of a dimension and that he'll get back to her. 

Back at home Kiera is trying to convince her husband of everything and he's all like "it's decorative". Dude, wallpaper is decorative. 

The verdict? 

Maths is confusing and so is this movie. 

The ending baffled me. I'm just not going to lie about it. I don't get it. I need one of those YouTube "ending explained" videos pronto. I even watched this twice thinking maybe I missed something but now I'm pretty sure I'm just stupid. So apparently a math equation opens us up to another dimension. Ok cool. How? Why? Why is it in the cellar? Why would anyone put this in their family home? Are those symbols just decoration after all? Why does some old lady live most of her life there just fine but some family moves in and they're instantly going missing? You should know I barely passed math in school. It's an actual Christmas miracle that I know how to budget.  

Other than that, I enjoyed the ambience of the film and the score was nice and creepy without ever overpowering a scene. Any movie needing to make the score deafening loud to make you jump is an epic fail in my books. Even just the shot of the cellar - a few steps and then total darkness - that's enough to creep me out. Nyctophobia is an extreme fear of the dark and you have no idea how hard it was studying photography and having to stand in pitch black rooms to develop film. Anxiety was real. It's like the room is trying to swallow you whole and you're not entirely convinced you're alone in there.

The acting was pretty stiff. The film really centres on Elisha Cuthbert and she spends the whole movie like she's just in a foul mood. It doesn't matter what's happening in the movie, she never seems the slightest bit concerned or even frightened. Not even finding out there's some link to Baphomet gets much of a reaction out of her. On that note, we only get a couple quick shots of him but he looked pretty cool. 

You can check out The Cellar yourself on SHUDDER.



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