the cellar | brendan muldowney | elisha cuthbert | eoin macken | dylan fitzmaurice brady | monster | creature | demon | religion | ireland | belgium | united states | abby fitz | tara lee | michael-david mckernan | andrew bennett | aaron monaghan | marie mullen
Film: The Cellar
Director: Brendan Muldowney
Writer: Brendan Muldowney
Starring: Elisha Cuthbert, Eoin Macken and Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady
This is a movie that I heard about through podcasts as well as it being featured via ads to me for Shudder. That is where I watched this movie as well. I decided to check it out as nothing was coming to the theaters around me and this seem to pair up interestingly with my other featured review on Journey with a Cinephile: A Horror Movie Podcast for that week’s Trek through the Twos.
Synopsis: 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.
We start with our family arriving at their new house. As our synopsis said, there is Keira who is married to Brian (Eoin Macken). They have two children. The oldest is Ellie (Abby Fitz) and their son is Steven (Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady). The boy seems interesting in moving into the new place while Ellie not so much. Through scenes that come later, she has a boyfriend that she moved away from as well as her friends. She isn’t making this change easy.
Keira notices odd symbols above doors in the house. She also realizes that there are Roman numerals carved into the stairs to the cellar and even a math equation engraved in stone at the base. Ellie gets locked in the basement and she freaks out. While she is uneasy, she gets even more upset when her parents must go into the office for work.
Ellie’s night doesn’t make her feel better. She must deal with her brother who is being annoying. They also discovers a secret room. Inside they find an abacus and a gramophone. She plays it and the power goes out. She calls her mother a second time. Her mother tells her that she must go into the cellar to fix it. Ellie is ready to leave but can’t leave her brother. She goes down and counts the steps with her mother to ease her fears. Her voice trails off and she sounds different though. Her parents rush home and she’s nowhere to be found.
This causes Keira to investigate these odd things about the mansion they’ve moved into. Things are more sinister than they realize as she learns more. This leads her to truth of John Fetherson, the man who built the house. He used to work at a local university. This leads her to a Doctor of Mathematics that now works in his office. Time is limited as Steven shows similar signs to what happened to his sister before she disappeared.
That is where I’ll leave the recap of the story as that gets you a gist of what this movie is doing and the key characters we need. Where I want to start then would be that I love the premise here. What is interesting is that I believe my buddy, Mr. Watson, from Jay’s New Horror Movies podcast saw this movie. While watching this, it felt like another movie he loves and I enjoy quite a bit in The LaPlace’s Demon. Both are dealing with supernatural elements and mathematics to explain them. That is about the end of the similarities, but there is still a bit of that there. What I will say is that I love exploring religion here with math. Not all this works though. I’ll come back to that shortly though.
I want to delve a bit deeper into the crux of this film. I’m not going to go into spoilers with it though. What I will say is that they do explore the equation. They don’t solve it, but Keira looks it up and even seeks out a Dr. Fournet (Aaron Monaghan) to learn more about it. They give this character an odd back-story that doesn’t go anywhere. I did like that he can visual mathematical equations since the one we’re dealing with is calculus and might technically fall more into physics or astronomy or a similar science. It wasn’t until I got older that I realized that I enjoy math, even if I don’t fully understand it at times, so this worked for me.
To circle back now, we are incorporating this with what could be demons and darker side of religion. Leviathan is brought up and I dug that. This delves into mythology for the Jewish faith. It even has elements of Jigoku or The Beyond. I was also a fan of these elements. What is interesting is that Mr. Watson brought up that this movie doesn’t stray from its path. This was a negative for him. It is interesting that while watching and now even writing my thoughts down, this should work for me, but for whatever reason it didn’t. I’m glad that we didn’t shy away from the supernatural. The movie just didn’t do anything new with the elements so that made it fall short. I did like the ending though as it feels bleak and that is something I appreciate.
There isn’t anything more for the story here so I’ll go to the acting. It is interesting that I knew Cuthbert all the way back when I was in high school with movies like The Girl Next Door. It is wild to see her as the mother here. She did well there. I like that she’s the one that notices the signs and believes it could be supernatural. Macken is good as her husband who is more of the rock of the family when things happen. Brady is fine as the son. Fitz was solid as well as the daughter. She goes missing though so she disappears for a good stretch. Aside from that, I liked Monaghan as Dr. Fournet. The rest of the cast was fine in support. Special credit to Karl Walsh in his performance along with Noor Truijens and Chris McHallem who did voice acting as well.
The last things to go into would the filmmaking. I think that the cinematography is good. This movie is shot well. We don’t do a lot with the effects, but it appears that most everything was done practical. They hide things and use sound design so that helps. I like where we go in the third act. That was creepy. I also thought the make-up done there was good. The soundtrack didn’t necessarily stand out, but it fit for what was needed.
In conclusion, this movie is interesting. I like that we are incorporating religion and mathematics here. It is an underused combination of elements. Despite that, this feels a bit flat. The acting is solid. I think what they do with the creature works. The lore used as the backdrop is good as well. This just doesn’t do enough to stand out for me. Regardless, this is still an interesting watch. I still think this is above average.
My Rating: 7 out of 10