The Cellar has a decent story in there somewhere, but unfortunately the execution takes away from it, making it more laughable than scary.
When it comes to setting up suspense in a horror movie, there are many things that have to go right in order to pull it off. The acting has to be up to par, but it is also important for the score and visuals to set the tone. Movies can get away with a lot, including cheesy dialogue, if the rest is done well. Unfortunately The Cellar has so much going against it, that any of the good beats are lost along the way.
This movie is based off of the ten minute long short film titled The Ten Steps, which is essentially the first act of The Cellar. The premise is that of the classic haunted house horror movie trope, that we have seen many times already. A family moves into a new home and before long unexplained things start to happen. The very first night they are in the house, the daughter disappears. However, she is on the phone with her mother when she does, counting down the ten steps to the basement — but she counts well past ten before all traces of her are gone.
It is discovered that she has run away before, so police, and even her father, think this is the case. Her mother is adamant though, trying to convince everyone that something bizarre happened in the cellar. As the story goes on the mother researches strange symbols and equations that have been found in the house, ultimately connecting this disappearance to another overused horror trope — an ancient evil that wants the family, although there is no explanation as to why. Perhaps just because they entered the house.
The Cellar has a runtime of just an hour and half, but it is a very slow watch. The pacing is off once it hits the second act, and doesn’t settle back in until the last ten minutes or so. The ending twist itself is great, but it just doesn’t make up for the struggle that is the rest of the movie. There are a handful of solid jump scares, but with a suspenseful film like this, there should be more, and they should be more intense.
Many small budget films pull off what they set out to do, but The Cellar is not one of them. There is far too much lacking, including visual effects, to make this movie feel like a horror film. There is no edge of your seat here, more like leaning back in your seat.
There are many aspects to the movie that drag it down. The actors often feel like they are just going through the motions. Simply reading through the script so that they can finish this movie and move along to the next one. The intensity is almost never felt, as it hard to believe that they are actually scared because of what is going on around them. This is where a well done score could have come in and saved the day, but alas, that flops too.
This movie could have, and should have, been a fantastic horror film. It is ruined by too many factors. So if you are looking for an intense and suspenseful supernatural horror movie, The Cellar isn’t it. The award winning short The Ten Steps is a much better use of your time.
Rating: 1 out of 5
About The Cellar
In THE CELLAR, 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.
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Tessa Smith is a Rotten Tomatoes Tomatometer-approved Film and TV Critic. She is also a Freelance Writer. Tessa has been in the Entertainment writing business for almost ten years and is a member of several Critics Associations including the Critics Choice Association, Hollywood Critics Association, and the Greater Western New York Film Critics Association.