The Basement is a crime thriller/torture horror film directed by Brian M. Conley and Nathan Ives. The cast stars Jackson Davis, Cayleb Long, Mischa Barton and Bailey Anne Borders. Taking inspiration from films such as Saw, Seven and Hostel, The Basement at first does not seem to have much to offer as far as originality is concerned in comparison. That said, once given a chance, both the narrative and the performances make this film worth watching.
The storyline follows Craig (Long), a successful rock guitarist who is kidnapped and tortured in a basement by a serial killer given the moniker of the “Gemini Killer”. Craig soon realizes that the killer is a special kind of crazy after being introduced to several different personalities. It doesn’t take long for Craig to get on board the crazy train and play along in order to try and survive.
During the interactions between Bill (Davis) and Craig, the audience is only privy to the basement setting. By keeping the camera only in this setting, the audience feels trapped with Craig. His anxiety and desperation of the situation makes the thrill of the film become real for the audience. Unfortunately, any built tension releases when we are taken from the basement to watch how Craig’s wife, Kelly (Barton), reacts to his disappearance. After inviting her best friend Bianca over to help with ideas on his whereabouts, the scenes become dull and provide little to no dialogue to connect to the storyline. The writing for her side of the narrative is poorly done and inadequately manages to set up the twist reveal in the end.
Aside from the great use of the basement setting, the best part of the film is the performances given by Davis’ character…or rather, characters. Each time Craig encounters Bill, he sees someone new from the life of Bill Anderson (The Gemini Killer) as if he were caught and brought to justice for his crimes. The personalities range from a salty detective who fingers Bill as the Gemini Killer to the father who left the family to fend for themselves.
Even with the few successes, the film does have its fair share of missed opportunities. During the opening of the film, the zodiac symbol for the Gemini birth sign along with a definition of the twins mark is given. Seeing as this feature keeps popping up during the film (killer carves the Gemini symbol into his victims foreheads, tattoo on Bill’s arm, Bill mentions he is a twin) there is really not much significance given throughout the rest of the scenes. It is not until the end of the movie that a connection between the events and the symbolism can even be made and this revelation is lack luster.
Although The Basement was filmed with an evidentiary low-budget, it is filmed professionally with satisfactory edits, special effects, and cinematography. While the sound and music design work efficiently in creating the desired mood, both are merely for effect rather than standing alone as exemplary labors.
Verdict 3 out of 5
Overall, despite a few missteps, The Basement was unexpectedly entertaining. Jackson Davis was stellar in his performance and Cayleb Long was equally good as Davis’ victim. The director executed a worthy narrative between these two captivating characters. That said, had he developed the aspect of the zodiac Gemini symbolism and twins better, the scenes with Mischa Barton and the twist ending would have made sense. Instead, they appear to be shoved in with no thought to create a love interest and a revenge aspect.