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John’s Horror Corner: The Cellar (2022), an uneventful, unengaging movie about a monster in the basement… sort of… but not really.

April 23, 2022

MY CALL:  This movie borrows the most interesting elements of Thirteen Ghosts (2001) and Poltergeist (1982) and squanders it all in this slow-paced, generally uninteresting, scareless and pointless film. Still, it’s sort of well made despite that.  MORE MOVIES LIKE The CellarPerhaps Darkness (2002) and The Messengers (2007). But if you want a much better movie about a basement monster, go for the cheesetastic Cellar Dweller (1988).

Starting their new life, Keira (Elisha Cuthbert; House of Wax, Captivity) and Brian (Eoin Macken; Till Death, Resident Evil: The Final Chapter, The Forest, The Hole in the Ground) move into a grand manor in need of some care. Less excited about the change is their teen daughter Ellie (Abby Fitz), who has a rattling scare when she is accidently locked in the basement for a few minutes.

This film opens with a well-made, very early 2000s vibe. I’m reminded of movies like Darkness (2002) and The Messengers (2007)—but it’s probably just the family with a teenage girl and a younger child moving into a secluded, old manor with creepy connections that’s conjuring this oddly specific feeling. Still, it seems that director and writer Brendan Muldowney (Pilgrimage) is leading us into familiar territory.

During their very first night in the house, Ellie is left at home alone to watch her younger brother when a power outage prompts her to brave the basement to check the fuses. When Keira and Brian get home, Ellie is nowhere to be found! Since the police prove to be no help in the disappearance of Ellie, Keira starts to dig on her own and discovers alchemical words, symbols and equations etched throughout the house.

By the halfway point I’m not uninterested, but this movie proceeds at a slow pace, and not in the high intrigue slowburn way. After the first couple creepy basement scenes, the creepiness has lost its magic and, frankly, I’m just waiting for something to finally happen yet the next time someone is locked in the basement. But, oh joy, it gets bad and I become yet less interested.

We meet an elderly woman with information regarding the house’s dark history, some internet searches lead to the demon Baphomet, the movie tries and fails to make “counting out loud” dreadful, we have a glimpse into some horrible underworld, the demon prince Baphomet is thwarted by whacking his claws with a flashlight… and I just don’t care about any of it.

So if you want scares… none really. Gore? Also zero. Creature effects? Well, the demon prince Baphomet looks like a passably low budget werewolf costume; so also no. Sorry, but this movie offers little more than a reminder that Elisha Cuthbert still picks up a movie every now and then. And for what it’s worth, Cuthbert wasn’t bad. But the movie was.

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