Review: The Basement

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Title: The Basement
Rating: NR
Director: Brian M. Conley, Nathan Ives
Starring: Jackson Davis, Mischa Barton, Cayleb Long
Runtime: 1hr and 28min

What It Is: Craig Owens (Cayleb Long) is kidnapped by a serial killer, Billy (Jackson Davis) who finds satisfaction in torturing victims through different personas.

What We Think: This is all at once suspenseful, compelling, and almost sorrowful. The actors all elevated the level of suspense, especially Jackson Davis, playing a psychotic killer. His different personalities were extremely reminiscent of the character Kevin, played by James McAvoy, in M. Night Shyamalan’s horror Split. Davis’s performance of each personality were perfected to the very detail of a simple hand gesture, accent, or quirk– it was more than just a costume change. (Not to say the costumes weren’t fabulous, because they were.) The emotion behind him, along with Owens and Barton, all came off as life-like. A+ for casting! Another aspect of this film that I greatly appreciated is the way it was directed; Conley and Ives allow the audience to relate to the main protagonist by not having any idea of what’s going on. There are small hints here and there, but we gather them at the same time Craig does. Because of it, we genuinely feel Craig’s confusion and terror. And the gore– oh goodness, the gore made me cringe and had me squirming in terror! (Do NOT eat while viewing this film!) Additionally, the screen time allocated between Craig’s wife, Kelly (Barton), and Craig with Billy is split (haha, pun intended) well. Every scene was necessary for the plot to make sense. The pacing was terrific! I didn’t have to wait until the middle of the film to see some action. There wasn’t too much of a prelude, yet the prelude was still incredibly important for the rest of the film. And the ending? Wow! Talk about a plot twist that made both my jaw and my pen drop! This is a perfect example of less is more in terms of visuals. The entire film takes place in only 3 locations, yet the basement that Craig was locked in (where the majority of the film takes place) never bored me. There were a variety of shots that kept my interest in this single location. However, I do wish that the “less is more” mindset didn’t apply to the plot-line. What left me confused was the actual motive of the several killings from the serial killer, and what type of theme the film is trying to convey. When the plot twist is revealed at the end, I am still puzzled about the motives of Billy. That doesn’t take away the fact that it was extremely entertaining, though.

Our Grade: B, In terms of how the story was told, it was executed well.  Something I’d like to see more of is an explanation of the thought process behind the killer, and what I, as a consumer, am supposed to take away from the story. That is what separates a B-list horror film from an A-list horror film.

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