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The Cellar | SXSW2022

Keira Woods (Elisha Cuthbert) and her family have moved into a new house in the country. In complete possessed-house fashion, it contains a cellar that includes several secrets. Then, one day, out of the blue, Woods’ daughter (Abby Fitz) disappears in the cellar after being locked in it. She must act quickly to find a way to get her daughter’s soul back as she discovers that there is an ancient and powerful entity controlling their home. Now, Brendan Muldowney’s The Cellar might have a pretty simple premise at the start of things. Still, there is much to uncover, especially in its final closing moments as it deals with haunted houses, possessed entities, and demonic figures. 

The problem with this film is that, not only does it not separate itself from other similar movies but, its approach also follows the horror handbook to a T, trope after trope. There are multiple segments where you can’t see a single soul because the lighting is too dim. Although some short sequences need to be that dark in order to add tension and scares, it just goes on for so long that it starts to get on your nerves, and not in a good way. There’s also the annoyingly “classic” “quiet, quiet… BANG!” types of scares like in Paranormal Activity and Sinister

In the last fifteen minutes, you can somewhat see the story’s potential. At one point, it even tries to dwell into the cosmic horror side of things. However, things never fall into place, and the story loses itself amidst the craze. It all feels too little too late; Muldowney doesn’t seem to have a specific aim in this project. The mysteries that the main character needs to figure out are too overplayed, causing it to be a bit silly instead of scary and thrilling. The score and visual effects ultimately do the heavy lifting.


By Hector Gonzalez

Hector Gonzalez is a Puerto Rican chemical engineering student and film critic with a great passion for cinema, award shows, 1960s music, and the horror genre. Some of his favorite films are RAW, Eyes Without a Face, and The Green Ray.

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