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.
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.
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.