Wednesday, June 06, 2018

CHC '18 The Basement Hides a Card or Two up its Sleeve: A Film Review

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Tagline: "Two Men. Twelve Personalities. One Living Hell."

Director: Brian M. Conley and Nathan Ives.

Writers: Brian M. Conley, Sean Decker and Nathan Ives.

Cast: Mischa Barton, Tracie Thoms, Jackson Davis, Bailey Anne Borders and Kareem J. Grimes.

The Basement is a co-directed film from Brian M. Conley and Nathan Ives. This indie horror title had a showing at 2017's Shriekfest. Recently, this title was at the Calgary Horror Convention (June 3rd). Here, The Basement was nominated for Best Horror Feature. This title brings Mischa Barton back to the screen, infamous for her role in 2009's Homecoming. Very violent, this title offers all sorts of dire scenarios, in one primary location. Yes, it is a basement of course. The film also offers a number of villains, one is particularly interesting with his many personalities. Even the late reveal of character motivations is well done; one character is especially devious. All of these elements come together to deliver an effective and tense horror film.

Gorehounds and violent film fetishists will find something special here. Unfortunately for Craig (Cayleb Long), he experiences many of the most brutal scenes. This character undergoes amputations, skin carvings and lots of general psychological torture. There is no way out of the basement though, after Craig is attacked by a man in a van. The reason for Craig's confinement is never revealed to him, but to the audience much later. Meanwhile, the final scenes in the basement are extremely graphic. And, this horror fan was shocked by the blowtorch scene. Still, it is hard to look away as Craig comes face to face with a serial killer, known as the Gemini killer. Many scenes are truly torturous.

The character Bill (Jackson Davis) is very complex. This character had at least nine personalities that this viewer counted. Though, the official poster promises even more. The reason for his many personalities is explained throughout the many torture scenes. This killer has a past, which he slowly relates to Craig. Bill has been abused by his caregivers and so has someone else close to him, a sister. His trauma comes out in his work on Craig. Actor Davis has the best and most complex role to play with. He does an excellent job as he transitions from personality to personality. Costumes change, along will Bill's torture techniques. This character and the actor are unforgettable within The Basement.

A late reveal brings a few story elements together; the film ends conclusively. Barton as Kelly knows something is going on between her husband and best friend, Bianca (Bailey Ann Borders). She elicits the help of someone close to her. Throughout the film, only a few plot points are revealed. Writers Brian M. Conley, Sean Decker and Nathan Ives do a great job of keeping most character motivations hidden. The protagonist, Craig, is not heroic and might even be considered a minor villain, based on his misdeeds. It rarely pays to stray in a revenge film. But, there is no chance for redemption as other characters are too scarred to care. Everything is tied up with a tight bow, once the villains reunite in a late scene and flashback.

The Basement is a well written horror film. Currently on a film festival run, this smaller title brings a lot to the screen with its two settings and four characters. The makeup fx heighten the gorier moments, especially that brutal blowtorch scene. Somewhat dire in tone, there are no happy endings here. Jackson Davis is particularly good as Bill, thanks to his well rounded character. And, The Basement is a great film, for horror fans, looking for something a bit more torturous, brutal and violent.

Overall: 7 out of 10.

The film's homepage: The Basement Official Website

The Basement at the Calgary Horror Con': The Basement Story Details at the Calgary Con'


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