Elisha Cuthbert has returned to horror — but now as a mom. The 24 alum plays Keira Woods in The CellarShe desperately tries and saves her daughter, who mysteriously disappears in the basement of their new house.
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“There was a lot of reasons why I took the role,” Cuthbert, 39, exclusively told Us Weekly. “But I think the No. 1 reason was sort of where I’m at. As an actor, I can relate to Keira’s journey. I have two children myself, and I read the script, feeling that I could identify with her. She would put herself in danger to save them. And so I really thought, wow, this is something really interesting to play with because a lot of horror films you’re kind of racking your brain going, ‘Why are these characters going into these dangerous situations?’ But for me, I felt like there was something so honest about the fact that, of course, this woman would do anything and put herself into any situation to save her daughter.”
Cuthbert has two children with her husband, a former hockey player Dion PhaneufShe married, in 2013. She was the matriarch of her family in the Brendan MuldowneyA -directed film is a novel concept for actresses.
“It’s great. I think you bring something to the table that I’ve never gotten to bring to the table prior to having children. I’m embracing it. It’s a joy. I love that I’m here still doing it and working and getting to play new versions of myself in that way,” she explained. “You could do it without children too, and kind of find ways to get there as an actor, but I mean, to have children, it is remarkable because it does shape things and change things for you.”
Cuthbert is however used to playing the lead in thrillers. Before The Cellar, she appeared in 2005’s House of Wax and 2007’s Captivity.
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“I do like horror films, but I’m much better at making them than I am watching them. I will say for people that are nervous about watching horror films, this is a really great middle ground where this isn’t really gore,” she told Use. “There’s a sophistication to this. There’s a psychological side to it where it builds. It’s gonna scare you, but I think there’s something really beautiful about the film also.”
The ending was the Happy Endings alum by surprise. “The one thing that really blew my mind was sort of where it takes you and how it ends. It’s mind-blowing for me because I didn’t see it coming,” she explained. “As a movie lover, I thought this is so great. It grabbed me. Nothing can stop me. It was a compelling story. It’s something I think many people will find interesting. It’s up to the people to like it or not. So it’s gonna be interesting to see what people think of it.”
The cast includes Eoin Macken, Abby FitzAnd Dylan Fitzmaurice BradyIn reality, he lived in the haunted mansion the Woods family moved into in film. “That added an element of sort of creepiness,” Cuthbert told Use. “Also being able to film in the Irish countryside where they have that sort of misty rain and the atmosphere definitely set the tone for the film, but when you’re making them, is it scary? But it’s physically demanding and intense. I’ll say that. So let’s get into it. House of Wax, going into Captivity, going into now The Cellar, all those experiences were all very, very intense.”
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The location was a pleasant change for the actress, though it wasn’t exactly like a romantic comedy. “I did enjoy the peace and quiet. I’m not gonna lie. It felt like a movie. The Holiday. I felt like Cameron Diaz. I just didn’t have Jude Law knocking at my door,” she joked, “which was fine.”
The CellarIt was presented at SXSW for the first time. It’s currently streaming on Shudder and in theaters.