When faced with moving into a creepy old estate in the Irish countryside, most people would probably know the first rule when it comes to inhabiting mysterious, ominous abodes: don’t go in the basement. For some reason, the family in writer / director Brendan Muldowney‘s “The Cellar” didn’t get the memo. This routine haunted house thriller checks all of the most basic horror film boxes from flickering lights to spooky noises, but it’s an overall dud.
When the power mysteriously goes out at their stately home, teenager Ellie (Abby Fitz) bravely heads down into the cellar to check the fuse box. She never returns. Desperate to find her daughter, mom Keira (Elisha Cuthbert) spends her time investigating the disappearance, discovering a terrifying supernatural history that surrounds the property. Keira is convinced the house’s demons took Ellie, and she decides to confront the evil presence to save her family.
The script is weak, but Muldowney does an adequate job of setting a sinister tone and conveying a sense of foreboding from the onset. He doesn’t do this in creative ways, however, using very dark cinematography and a menacing score as a crutch for originality. Simplicity is key here, but much of the film is too basic and predictable. There are a few scares, but the film lacks surprises as well as substance. The characters are so thinly developed that I never found a connection with them.
“The Cellar” is just another spooky film that covers the same well-worn ground as most others in the genre. It’s not a total waste of time, but the lazy occult elements and the total bummer of an ending lead to an awful lot of disappointment.