Only five minutes in and I can see why this film scored three point seven on IMDB. Might be some sort of a record. Generally, I don’t critique acting, because actors are at the mercy of the director, script and one another. Being an actor is hard. The competition is fierce, the rejection constant, the availability of good, paying, projects rare.
Horror films are a popular route into the profession. They are relatively cheap to make, extremely popular, both as a genre and niche. It is also seemingly complex enough for the ego of actors, with them being able to run the entire gamut of emotions in the most extreme of genres.
Acting is not easy, this statement is emphatically proved in The Basement, the 2018 film starring ex-The OC alumni, Mischa Barton. Barton plays Kelly Owen, the wife of Craig Owen, a successful musician.
Craig is played by Cayleb Long. Long is awful. He is Alien Warfare awful. He is truly in the wrong profession. The script for The Basement is terrible, which obviously does not help, but it cannot disguise the wretchedness of his performance.
The film begins with a title card stating that the third sign of the zodiac is known as the twins, Geminis are said to have a dual nature. So there’s that. We are then with a half-naked woman begging for mercy from an unknown, unseen man. She is restrained, tied sitting down at a desk. The man fires up a blow torch and she screams.
Craig is playing the piano when Kelly comes and asks him to go and get some champagne because they have run out. Craig goes to the local store to pick up a bottle. Whilst at the store, he gets kidnapped. When he wakes up, he is in a basement, restrained to a desk.
Craig is tortured by a madman, Bill Anderson (Jackson Davis), who appears periodically in different guises; a clown, an attorney, father, mother, jail inmate, jail guard, doctor. He baits and tortures Craig, knocking out a couple teeth, severing his fingers and beating him up a bit.
Kelly wonders where he has got to and so goes looking for him. She goes to the store where he got snatched. His car is there still. She asks the cashier if he said anything. Nothing. She calls the police. As he has been missing for less than twenty-four hours, they are unable to help. Not knowing what else to do, she goes to her friend, Bianca’s (Bailey Anne Borders) home.
Kelly is convinced that Craig is having an affair. Bianca, who is having an affair with Craig, asks what makes her think that. Kelly isn’t sure. Kelly is suspicious of Bianca and begins to question her. Bianca deflects the questions.
Craig almost escapes but is quickly overcome by Bill and restrained once again and the torture continues. Craig is defiant until he sees Bill return in his execution garb. He then becomes a quivering coward, realising he is about to die. Bill cuts his head off with a blowtorch.
He then goes to see Kelly. He is her twin brother. A month earlier, having realised her brother was the serial killer, Kelly asks him to kill her husband after she realises that he is cheating on her with her best friend Bianca. He agrees. The end.
Oh, fuck right off! This film is such an utter pile of shit! Everybody in the film is bad, except maybe Bailey Anne Borders as Bianca and the random half-naked screaming blonde in the opening scene. Everyone else is utter dog shit.
As I alluded to earlier, Cayleb Long is awful – though his begging scene is quite good – I don’t know if it is the bad direction or if he decided to be the sort of character that would not see his situation as perilous until just before death, but whichever it was, it was a poor choice. The man is locked and restrained, in a basement, with an obvious psychopath.
Instead of being pants-wettingly terrified, he tries to outwit the crazy person with mind games. That particular plan gets his fingers cut off, his teeth knocked out, he gets punched repeatedly and stabbed. Still, he persists, because it’s bound to work eventually right? No.
Jackson Davis is not bad, he is just overacting in a truly bad film. Truth be told, he is the only reason to watch the film. Playing multiple characters, he at least brings a little interest. The fact that you want him to kill the smug Craig, twenty minutes in, does not help.
I checked to see if Barton was a producer on the film. She is not. There is no reason I can see for her appearing in this tripe. It does her no favours, she is barely in twenty minutes of the film and none of them are good or add to the film. They could have used literally any actress to fill her role.
The gall of the writers – step forward Messrs. Brian M Conley and Nathan Ives – to include an explanatory scene at the end is breathtaking. They should have put a scene explaining why and how the film got made! Not only did they write the film, but they are also on directing duties. Hmm. They definitely know a good cinematographer.
The film is beautifully shot, an absolute waste on a project such as this. The Basement is an insult to the horror genre, the eyeballs, and the psyche. Avoid at all cost.