Elisha Cuthbert’s Comeback Role

The Cellar is sleek horror escapism, a darkly creepy tale peppered with visceral thrills and disturbing twists. An ancient evil lurks in the basement of a family’s new residence. Filmmaker Brendan Muldowney crafts a taut masterpiece of terror around star Elisha Cuthbert (The Girl Next Door). There’s a fine chance The Cellar ends up one of 2022’s best horror films when things are all said and done.

Keira Woods (Elisha Cuthbert) and her husband Brian (Eoin Macken) move into a stately mansion they won at auction with their two children, Ellie (Abbey Fitz) and Steven. Cryptic symbols and mysterious numbers are marked throughout the home. The lavish estate has a menacing, foreboding presence.

There’s a fine chance The Cellar ends up one of 2022’s best horror films

All Hell literally breaks loose for the family when teenager Ellie vanishes in the basement with no trace left behind. Frustrated with the police search, Keira takes a deep dive into the occult looking for answers and digs into her new home’s history.

The Cellar offers a neatly conceptualized twist on the usual haunted house formula with a richly conceived premise which delves into mathematics and demonic terror. Shades of The Omen and Poltergeist shape and influence the proceedings.

A creepy setting and suspenseful storytelling help build an impressive atmosphere of dread and tension. The on-screen horror is almost completely realized and starkly effective. The indie project punches above its budget except maybe in a few shoddy VFX shots in the shocking finale.

Elisha Cuthbert still has ‘it’ as a veteran actress and her casting is a big reason for the film’s success. Most fans fondly remember her early Hollywood career in movies like The Girl Next Door and House of Wax. Here she is a concerned mother fighting to protect her family from eternal damnation with electrifying results. The Cellar couldn’t work without Cuthbert’s unassuming but pitch-perfect performance.

Director Brendan Muldowney demonstrates a keen grasp of the genre’s mechanics, delivering an exciting mix of sinister set pieces and sympathetic characters. Fairly original twists and turns keeps viewers on their toes as the forces of darkness unfold in The Cellar. Elisha Cuthbert’s best role in years helps give the occult thriller a real personality. More than mere indie fodder, The Cellar is a compelling mix of supernatural mystery and frightening evil.

Video

The impressively gloomy 2.39:1 presentation oozes an air of fear and tension. The Cellar’s 1080p video exhibits a darker palette with few primary colors highlighted. Most scenes are in crisp definition and sharp clarity. It’s a technically proficient transfer which neatly replicates the movie’s likely 2K digital intermediate without filtering or ringing.

The main feature runs 94 minutes on a BD-50, encoded in AVC. Outside of stray banding in a couple of the more adventurous VFX shots, artifacts are not present. Black levels are solid, leading to inky blacks and serviceable shadow delineation.

Nothing in the video quality is reference caliber but the consistent cinematography effectively creates moody atmosphere. If a desaturated color correction doesn’t bother you, this is an excellent Blu-ray presentation.

Audio

The tense horror film has a rewarding 5.1 DTS-HD MA soundtrack which serves up atmospheric chills and oppressive terror. Cleanly intelligible dialogue is nicely balanced with the haunting musical score’s greater dynamics. There’s real thump from the low-end when the demon finally appears.

The discrete sound design features smooth channel separation and accurate sonic imaging. A tasteful soundstage offers occasional rear effects. The Cellar does well playing up the spookier scenes with obvious impact.

Optional English SDH, French, and Spanish subtitles play in a white font inside the 2.39:1 presentation.

Extras

The Cellar arrives on Blu-ray courtesy of RLJE Films. Early pressings should include an embossed slipcover. The disc is listed as Region A.

Supplements include a full director’s commentary, a couple featurettes, and the original short film from director Brendan Muldowney which inspired the movie.

Director & Producer Commentary – Brendan Muldowney and producer Richard Bolger cover the film’s production and tales from shooting in this lightly engaging audio commentary.

Interviews with The Cellar Cast & Crew (05:09 in HD) – A brief capsule overview of the film and its characters in short interviews.

SHUDDER Trailers (06:58 in HD) – Trailers for Son, The Dark & The Wicked, and Mary play in sequential order before the main menu.

The Cellar VFX Before & After (02:50 in HD) – A pure scene-to-scene comparison highlighting footage taken before effects were added with the finished product.

The Ten Steps Short Film W/ Optional Director’s Commentary (10:31 in HD; 2.0 DTS-HD MA) – Brendan Muldowney’s initial short film from 2004 which was the precursor for The Cellar. It’s a less refined version of the film’s opening act but all the key beats remain.

Full disclosure: This Blu-ray was provided by the label for review. This has not affected the editorial process. For information on how we handle review material, please visit our about us page.

The Cellar
  • Video
  • Audio
  • Extras
5

Movie

Elisha Cuthbert puts on a star performance in this magnificently scary demonic mystery finely crafted by Irish filmmaker Brendan Muldowney

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The following six screen shots serve as samples for our subscription-exclusive set of 44 full resolution, uncompressed HD screen shots grabbed directly from the Blu-ray: