Thursday, August 16, 2012

Project Terrible: Don't Look in the Cellar (2010)

Whatever you do... DON'T look on Netflix for this ridiculously inept attempt at a horror movie. My fourth movie for Project Terrible is so far the very worst, so kudos to Thomas at Cinema Gonzo for picking out the "perfect" PT movie for me to waste my time on watch.

For extra credit in their history class, a group of college classmates decide to spend Halloween night in an abandoned mental asylum to find out the truth about what really happened there ten years ago. Little do they know that a couple of the inmates have never left the asylum, and one by one the students encounter Wendell and his sidekick Smiley, who kills anyone who comes into their "home."

Though the story is really cliched, it very well could have made for a good horror film. And I do applaud the script writers for including a bit more to the story than just what is on the surface. One of the students, Melissa, is very shy and doesn't have any friends. She has been raised by her older sister for the past ten years after their mother died and as the movie goes on, you learn more about what their connection to the asylum is. I couldn't believe that I actually found myself interested in this backstory and wanted to find out what happened. The girls playing Melissa and her sister are the best in the bunch and, dare I say it, they might actually have a chance at real careers if they never work with these guys who made this movie again.

The other actors/characters are a major fail. We have a douchebag who continuously comes on to other girls right in front of his girlfriend, two hot lesbians (their Halloween costume is one girl dressed like a dominatrix with the other girl on a leash), a slut who freely admits to prostituting herself to make money for college during a game of Truth or Dare, and two girls who used to be popular in high school and still act like they are in high school. And one of them is as dumb as a box of rocks. "Oh my god, everyone knows he totally has the hots for Angela!" Say that line in your best Valley Girl impersonation and you'll get what one of these actors was like to watch on screen.

One of my favorite bad things about Don't Look in the Cellar is that they make almost no attempt to have their setting look like an actual asylum. They literally filmed the movie in somebody's house and did not change any of the furnishings or decor. Why yes, I totally believe that we are in a crazyhouse that has been abandoned for ten years, with only two crazy people taking care of it the whole time. Well, either the filmmakers couldn't change their location or crazy people are really good at housekeeping, because the "asylum" is extremely tidy and clean. The crazy people even seem to have updated one of the kitchens with nice stainless steel appliances and granite countertops. Pfft. The filmmakers do decorate one room of the house to look like an infamous padded room - but that doesn't really help their case. Lazy work, set decorators, lazy.

The kill scenes are really bad. Smiley likes to use a machete mostly to dispose of the college idiots, but I guess no effects person could found anywhere so the kills are beyond amateur. Put a little blood on the machete, have the actor conveniently double over so the camera can't see the entry point of the machete, and spray some blood on the actor's face. Bingo! That'll look great, right?! There is a hand chopped off and a head chopped off, but both happen so quick that you don't see much of anything.

One thing that really bothers me about movies like this is when they jump so abruptly to new scenes and characters with no transitions or establishing shots to show us where we are - especially when the scenes are just stupid throwaways. One minute we're watching two girls talking in their house, and then the very next shot is some random crazy or drunk guy walking into the cellar of the asylum and getting killed by Smiley. Don't Look in the Cellar does something like several times and it really peeved me off. Actually, pretty much everything about this movie peeved me off, so that's not really saying much, is it?

All in all, it's a pretty terrible, terrible movie. I don't know how the whole Netflix-buying-movies-to-put-on-streaming thing works, but if this were my movie, I certainly would not have taken the opportunity to have my pathetic attempt at filmmaking be made available for people the world over to ridicule. I only hope these filmmakers have a backup plan for when their careers don't work out. Shoe salesmen, perhaps.


  1. Yowza! Sounds terrible, all right!

  2. Is Project Terrible all Instant Watch?? I wish I had found this series earlier! I've recently watched/skipped through several bad horror movies on Netflix, hoping eventually in the piles of turd I'll find something worth watching.

  3. Sounds terrible, looks terrible. I guess not even I could enjoy this :-)

  4. This is absolutely the best thing I've ever seen. My friends and I have watched it at least 4 times. If you want a good laugh, watch this.

  5. It's so bad. I just kept thinking "is this a joke"?