Criticism of ‘The Cellar (The Cellar)’: Schrödinger’s ladder

The reviews of Daniel Farriol:
The Cellar

The Cellar is an Irish horror film written and directed by brendan muldowney (The Relic Keeper, Love Eternal). The story revolves around the Woods family moving into a new house unaware of the dark past that haunts the sinister place. During the first night, the teenage daughter mysteriously disappears in the basement and her mother will not give up in the effort to discover what mystery the house harbors to recover her daughter. It is based on the short The Ten Steps (20o4) by the director himself. It is starring Elisha Cuthbert (Captives, The House of Wax), Eoin Macken (Till Death. Until death do us part, the pitch), Abby Fitz (Redemption, Double Blind), Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady, Aaron Monaghan, Andrew Bennett, Tara Lee Y Michael-David McKernan. The film has been released in Movistar+ on August 5, 2022.

The disappearance of the daughter

The Cellar is a new foray into the haunted house subgenre that has some good ideas, but fails to transcend the usual commonplaces full of creaking doors that hide an unhealthy darkness. The unsuspecting Woods family buy an old mansion at a bargain price at auction and move there without first investigating the mysterious history that lies within its walls (first mistake). The marriage formed by Keira (Elisha Cuthbert) and Brian (Eoin Macken) work as creatives for a company and having to face an important presentation for a new project (what hours!), they must be absent during the first night of their stay in the house and leave their children Ellie (Abby Fitz) and Steve (Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady) alone there (second error).

Ellie is a rebellious teenager who has bad vibes with the house from the beginning after being locked in the gloomy basement at first (don’t buy houses with attics or basements!). Bad luck or, perhaps, the presence of something evil causes all the lights in the house to go out and the girl has to go down to the basement again, which is where, of course, the electrical panel is located. Despite her initial reluctance, her mother forces her to do it (third mistake) as a way of overcoming her fears, while she stays on the other side of the telephone line, giving her the necessary strength to achieve it. It’s only ten steps to get to the bottom, but the girl will keep counting as if the stairs had no end… When the parents return home, her daughter has disappeared and there is no trace of her in the cursed basement.

“Solve and coagula”

It’s a classic opening for a horror film and the truth is that the Irishman brendan muldowney knows how to impregnate with enough suspense everything that surrounds The Cellar of the title. Not surprisingly, this promising start is an improved copy of his short The Ten Steps (2004) which was already awarded at the Sitges Festival that year. The short ended with the teenager counting the steps that took her to an unknown place that we will discover what she hides here. As a result of this strange disappearance, her mother will not give up her efforts to discover what has happened, finding various symbols in the house that connect what happened with occult practices of alchemists and scientists under the motto of the solve et coagula.

The investigation with paranormal overtones carried out by the mother, as is usual in these cases, with the frontal opposition of a more cerebral husband who believes that his daughter has simply run away from home, is a part of the plot that manages to trap us through its philosophical drift that seems to lead us to something more original than these films are used to. However, the script ends up making a considerable mess mixing metaphysical ideas focused on mathematical calculation or quantum mechanics such as Schrödinger’s cat with others of a demonic nature where the Templars, Baphomet and even the sea beast Leviathan appear. Too many independent concepts that don’t quite come together to give a satisfactory explanation to the mystery of the house and what really happens in the basement.

The ball at the bottom of the ladder

Even so, despite all its script imperfections, improvable performances and having a budget that is limited by the scarcity of elements of its staging, The Cellar I don’t think it’s a sloppy job at all, and it’s superior to many other similar haunted house products. For example, all the scenes that take place in the basement are quite disturbing and the ending also brings new ideas that could have been explored more carefully to not leave so many questions and loose ends. In general, like it more or less, it must be recognized that it has a powerful, intelligent and malevolent ending.

Director brendan muldowney It is clear that he is passionate about the classics and takes as references for his film The Haunted Mansion (Robert Wise1963) and At the end of the stairs (The Changeling) (Peter Medak, 1980), with an explicit tribute included to the terrifying scene of the little ball. You will not find anything extraordinary in The Cellarbut it is a correct film with a good atmosphere that can make you have a good time of light entertainment.

What do you think of the movie?

The Cellar

The Cellar

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