The Basement – 2018

Directors Brian M. Conley, Nathan Ives
Screenplay Conley, Ives and Sean Decker
Starring Mischa Barton, Jackson Davis, Cayleb Long, Tracie Thoms, Bailey Anne Borders

This is the kind of movie made by people in Hollywood who, as Dennis Miller says, “list cat scans on their as film credits on their resume.” I knew guys in High School that made a movie once, called Frayed. It was on par with this film. I like Frayed better than this, because I knew the guys making it, and they actually showed some skill in the attempt. The Basement just showed me that the people making it knew someone with an expensive car and a decent house that they were allowed to borrow for one night and part of the morning.

The Basement begins with the scream of someone tied in a chair. She looks like she just sat down, had some makeup applied and was given the instruction to look scared. She screams as a blow torch is lighted by a man wearing a garment with The Gemini symbol on it.

Next thing we see is a cad musician (Long) who is driving a Ferrari to the local Kwiki Mart to purchase Champagne for his wife (Barton). We know he’s a douche because he’s getting lurid texts from his girl on the side. He didn’t notice the creepy van parked alongside when he parked. He barely registers when the van opens up behind as he’s getting in the car.

The musician awakes to find himself in the same spot that our earlier actress inhabited. The Gemini Killer (Davis) is easy to recognize because he has a huge tattoo of the symbol on his right arm visible no matter what disguise he puts on. Each identity carries its own torture, mainly from his inability to act.

The first personage he’s greeted with is Baylee the Clown, then he comes back as a cop, then an interrogator, then an inmate, etc. The characters are on par with Agent Michael Scarn from Michael Scott’s improv class. These don’t really feel like they’re being portrayed by someone with any personality, much less the 12 that the movie touts on its poster.

There are attempts at effects. There are two teeth knocked out that the prisoner is forced to swallow. Then we spend the rest of the film at an angle not required to show them. Next we see fingers cut off. The ones they drop off the floor look like they come from Phil Dunphy’s magic shop. They do some work on the stumps that remain. Nothing approaching The Thing here. There’s a shot fired that ricochet’s off of concrete., leaving not even a scratch. They don’t linger on it, at least.

The prize shot they save for the last. There is a smidgen of ingenuity to it. All I could think at that point is the whole process would have been less cruel for the viewer if they’d skipped each of the personalities and just beat him a bit, then just cut to end.

I saw this film on a dare from someone who saw the first 10 minutes then fast forwarded to the end. Both he and I had seen this film pushed to the top of our Netflix login, saying there was a 90+% chance we’d like this film. Not sure what the criteria is, but it’s not nearly as accurate as those Amazon adbots that put items similar to what you were browsing for on every future page you drive to. He wins in life though, even if he saw only 5 minutes less than I did.

(no stars out of *****)

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