Starring: Mischa Barton, Bailey Anne Borders, Jackson Davis, Cayleb Long
Written by: Brian M. Conley, Sean Decker
Directed by: Brian M. Conley, Nathan Ives
Running Time: 90 Minutes
Reviewed by: Dan Oles
Basement is an achievement in the same way any film is. To wrangle the manpower, money, talent and tools to shoot and complete a production, any production, is a herculean effort worthy of praise. It’s unfortunate that all of that time and effort seems to have been paid to cobble together a poorly conceived homage to the horror genre where nearly every beat rings too often familiar, and the attempts at originality are just confusing. The performances are not very convincing, but this might also be due to some really shaky dialogue. People act a little strangely, and not always in the way that the director/writer probably wanted. For instance characters who are obviously the same person in different clothing and silly accents are treated by other characters as if they completely different characters. The timeline is a little askew. If characters are using cellphones, why do detectives wear fedoras and smoke on the job while keeping specials concealed in shoulder holsters. Even under duress, a person should be able to determine he’s being played. Also it doesn’t help when the character is disguise has a very obvious motif that the audience is clearly meant to notice on repeat viewings as the mystery unfolds…but which I noticed almost immediately.
Some spelling out is important to keep an audience informed, but when it’s this bold faced from the beginning text of the film on it can come across as condescending. I hate the rag on a film in which clearly everyone involved is giving their all, especially the lead who is acting his heart and soul out. The effects are decent and gruesome. The lighting and directing is professional and on point. The ludicrous script and amateur emoting lets down what could have been a creepy little horror tale. At times it’s so silly it might have made for a passable comedy if it hadn’t been for the more sadistic elements of the story.
Basement might have functioned better as a play. Less tends to be more and mulling over the brutality of the film, even if as mentioned the effects are believable, it makes it seem like the blood and pain are the draw or the lurid descriptions of horrible events. We barely get to meet or understand the characters apart from their dark pasts and ugly futures. Scenes outside of the titular basement seem a bit pointless compared to the events transpiring within. The sheer pointlessness of the grotesqueries and longwinded dead-end narratives reminds me of someone who saw Tarantino and was inspired to blend elements of his style with torture porn. It’s a potentially inventive combination but it wore out its welcome quickly and the obvious youth of the participants despite their supposed years of experiences made the whole affair feel like a student film.
And maybe later productions by the same dedicated team will yield more impressive results. As stands it’s a relatively functional curiosity.
Here’s the links to my project Anti-Hero: an original online motion comic series in progress