FILM REVIEW: Josh's review of The Basement (2018)

Author's note: This movie shouldn't be confused with the 2017 film of the same name.

Staring: Mischa Barton, Jackson Davis, Cayleb Long

Written by: Brian M. Conley, Nathan Ives, Sean Decker

Directed by: Brian M. Conley & Nathan Ives

If you're hoping for an engaging thriller, than sadly, The Basement is a massive let-down. This 2018 release, written & directed by Brian M. Conley and Nathan Ives, unfortunately just comes off as predictable - thanks to a heavy reliance on gore and a tired serial killer premise.

You see, a popular and wealthy musician named Craig Owen (Cayleb Long), during a romantic evening at home with his wife, Kelly (played by Mischa Barton), leaves (per the wife's request) to go to a nearby convenience store to pick up some champagne. As he returns to his car, the side-door of a van opens and pulls Craig inside.

Fast forward to some time later, Craig wakes up to find himself in a basement tied to an old school desk. Soon a man (Davis) - dressed as a clown - appears and starts to calling Craig 'Billy'. Though Craig tells the clown that he doesn't know who 'Billy' is, the clown is having no part of it - leaving from the basement extremely angry.

Once the clown leaves, Craig attempts to escape, but relents n the attempt when he hears what he believes to be a police officer coming to rescue him. However, to his horror, Craig quickly learns that it is the same man - formerly dressed as the clown, now dressed as a police man. Now assuming the role of 'Police Man,' the man begins pointing his gun at Craig and accusing him of being the Gemini Killer, a local serial murderer who has been decapitating street people.

As time passes, the man - just as he had done before - leaves and returns in another persona: a homicide detective. Like 'The Police Man' before, 'The Detective' character continues to accuse Craig of being the Gemini Killer; however, as 'The Detective,' the man takes things a step further by knocking out some of Craig's teeth with the barrel of a gun to get him to reveal where the bodies are. Realizing that his only hope of escape is to play along with his abductor's game, Craig's starts to play along in the hopes of getting the man to make a mistake.

Elsewhere Kelly is growing increasingly worried about where her husband is, so she calls the police and then eventually goes down to the convenience store where Craig's car is still parked. The Killer continues to cycle through different characters, each one trying to convince Craig that he's the actual Gemini Killer. Each 'persona' seems to act out a different phase of what the actual killer imagines will happen when and if he is caught. At one point, the Killer walks in dressed as a priest and then as a woman - pretending to be Craig's mother, who is saying good bye to him before he is to be executed.

Fans of M. Night Shyamalan's 2016 film Split, in which a man with multiple personality disorder abducts three young women and hides them in a basement - as his different personalities interact with each of them - might feel like this movie is a rip-off of that. In actuality though, the whole movie comes off as a knock-off of Saw and Mousetrap more than anything. Additionally, Davis himself is not very convincing as a killer with multiple personalities. In some cases, some of his 'personalities' come off as more comedic than scary. For example, when he's playing Craig's mother, it felt like he was playing what he thought a woman or a loving mother would be like in a situation where her son is about to die. Unfortunately, it lacks the realness that James McAvoy brought to his female persona in Split. Aside from Davis, Barton seems almost bored in her role - appearing to go through the motions as she searches for her husband. Spoiler alert! There might indeed be a reason why Barton might be playing it that way, but I won't say what that is.

The one bright spot in this movie is Cayleb Long, who, despite the film's obvious flaws, manages to deliver a convincing performance as Craig - a sympathetic kidnap victim that audiences can relate to. Unlike many of his horror movie contemporaries who find themselves in the same predicament, Craig, in contrast, is portrayed as a smart horror movie character who tries to use his intellect and wit to out-think his captor in the hopes of finding the means to escape.

Overall rating: C

Josh Pritchett is a staff film and comic book critic for Movers & Shakers. He is also the author of the Robot Repair Girl series featured in the Brave New Girls Anthology series, avalable on Amazon.

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