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Brendan Muldowney
Elisha Cuthbert, Eoin Macken, Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady
Brendan Muldowney

Keira Woods 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.
Rated NR.

Aspect Ratio: 2.39:1
English DTS-HD MA 5.1
Supplements Subtitles:

Runtime: 94 min.
Price: $28.96
Release Date: 6/21/2022

• Audio Commentary with Writer/Director Brendan Muldowney and Producer Richard Bolger
• Interviews with Cast and Crew
• “VFX Before & After” Featurette
Ten Steps Short Film with Optional Commentary
• Previews


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The Cellar [Blu-Ray] (2022)

Reviewed by Colin Jacobson (June 14, 2022)

Not much makes one feel older than the sight of actresses who gained fame as the “hot young stars” turn into actresses who play mothers. This becomes even more startling when the movie in question asks the prior sexy ingenue to play the parent of a late teenager, not a toddler.

Such becomes the circumstance with 2022’s The Cellar. In this one, we get Elisha Cuthbert – best-known as Jack Bauer’s young daughter from the TV series 24 - as a pushing-40 mother.

Brian Woods (Eoin Macken), wife Keira (Cuthbert), teen daughter Ellie (Abby Fitz) and pre-teen son Steven (Dylan Fitzmaurice Brady) move into an old Irish house. Ellie feels unhappy with his new life, and she butts heads with her mom.

When Keira and Brian go out for the evening and leave the kids at home, Ellie enters the home’s cellar and mysteriously disappears. If her parents ever hope to see Ellie again, they need to confront an ancient evil that pervades the home.

If that sounds reminiscent of 1982’s Poltergeist, I suspect the similarities don’t come as a coincidence. Whether intentional or not, I have to believe the filmmakers realized that aspects of the plot hearken back to the now-40-year-old classic.

This doesn’t make Cellar a clone of the prior film, though. While its themes remind me of Poltergeist, the execution differs more than enough for Cellar to stand on its own.

Unfortunately, the story itself can’t find enough to sustain us. Taken from writer/director Brendan Muldowney’s own short film, Cellar struggles to occupy its relatively brief running time with compelling material.

Yikes, does Cellar offer a slow story! This becomes one of those movies where you like at the time counter and go “geez, we’re only that far into this thing???”

Indeed, the movie’s short film origins always remain apparent. Cellar barely bothers with an actual story, and characters remain thin.

In terms of “plot”, we get the vague notion of “mother and daughter who don’t understand each other”, a well-worn narrative. Cellar leaves the others on the sidelines much of the time, which seems odd since this means the husband barely registers.

Most of the actors try their best, though Cuthbert becomes a weak link. She shows an emotional range that varies from annoyed to peeved and little else.

This all leaves Cellar as slow and never especially interesting. It should muster some intrigue as Keira investigates the mysterious house but just feels like it drags its feet and turns into a sluggish thriller.

The Disc Grades: Picture B/ Audio B/ Bonus B-

The Cellar appears in an aspect ratio of approximately 2.39:1 on this Blu-ray Disc. Expect generally positive visuals here.

For the most part, sharpness appeared good. While the image occasionally felt a bit on the soft side during interiors or wider shots, the majority of the movie came across with acceptable to good delineation.

Jagged edges and moiré effects failed to appear. I also noticed neither edge haloes nor print flaws.

In terms of palette, Cellar favored a mix of heavy teal and orange/amber. These hues lacked much pep but they seemed more than adequate.

Blacks appeared full and dense, while low-light shots gave us good clarity. This didn’t become a great image, but it worked fine most of the time,

Though not packed with action, the film’s DTS-HD MA 5.1 soundtrack accentuated the story. Most of the livelier moments related to “scare elements”, but even those didn’t manage to use the spectrum in an especially vivid manner.

The film emphasized ambience and not much more. A little violence popped up along the way, but not enough to make a real difference in the track’s overall impact.

Within those gentle confines, sound quality satisfied. Music was full and rich, while effects demonstrated nice clarity and accuracy. Those elements boasted deep bass to accentuate the movie’s horror,

Speech came across as crisp and natural. The mix didn’t do much but it seemed acceptable.

A mix of extras appear here, and we open with an audio commentary from writer/director Brendan Muldowney and producer Richard Bolger. Both sit together for this running, screen-specific look at the original short film and story/characters, cast and performances, sets and locations, editing and photography, influences, effects, music and related topics.

Muldowney dominates the track and makes this a worthwhile endeavor. We get a nice view of the production that usually maintains a good pace, so expect an informative chat.

A short film from 2004 called The Ten Steps goes for 10 minutes, 31 seconds. It offers an abbreviated version of the main feature, one that focuses more on teen Katie (Jill Harding) and what happens to her in the cellar.

None of this becomes especially effective horror. Still, it works better than the longer version, if just because it doesn’t wear out its welcome.

We can watch Steps with or without commentary from writer/director Muldowney. He discusses inspirations, story/character moments, cast and performances, and related topics. Muldowney provides a competent view of the short.

Interviews with Cast & Crew span five minutes, nine seconds and involve producer Conor Barry and actors Elisha Cuthbert, Eoin Macken, and Dylan Fitzmaurice-Brady.

We get basics about the film and its production. Expect a fairly superficial promo piece, though it perplexes that the reel comes billed as inclusive of crew since it consists almost entirely of cast. Barry tosses out about 15 words at the end but otherwise it’s all actors.

With VFX Before & After, we find a two-minute, 50-second reel that shows what the title implies: scenes as shot and then with added visual effects. It becomes mildly interesting, though commentary about the work involved would improve it.

The disc opens with ads for Son, The Dark and the Wicked and The Owners. No trailer for Cellar appears here.

Based on a short film, The Cellar betrays its roots, as it cannot find enough useful content to fill 94 minutes. Also saddled with an unconvincing lead actor, this becomes a slow and dull stab at terror. The Blu-ray brings generally positive picture and audio along with a mix of bonus materials. Don’t expect much from this sluggish thriller.

Viewer Film Ratings: 1 Stars Number of Votes: 1
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