❉ This film only works as a cautionary tale of how low Mischa Barton’s career has fallen, writes Iain MacLeod.
Sometimes, right from the very start, you just know you are in for a right stinker. You have that thin sliver of hope that you may be wrong but from its opening scene The Basement, written and directed by Brian M Conley and Nathan Ives, sets such a heavy-handed tone of what I can only describe as… wrongness that immediately squashes all hope that the next hour and a half may hold any aspects of entertainment or interest. The only interest or questions it raises is who thought that funding this would be a good idea?
Basically, what we have here is a rip off of M Night Shyamalan’s Split but with more torture porn, a complete lack of understanding of issues of mental health, a complete failure of filmmaking on every single level apart from keeping the camera in focus and that girl who used to be in The O.C.
Mischa Barton gets top billing here but that is only due to whatever name recognition she carries these days. She plays the wife of Craig, a musician who finds himself kidnapped and held captive in the basement of Jackson Davis’s Bill, a serial killer who likes to torment his victims by re-enacting his life of crime and hardship by dressing up as a number of characters, including a cop, a detective, his mum and torturing and interrogating Craig as if he was the real killer. If that last sentence didn’t make any sense then that is because the film makes less than none itself.
Like the majority of low-budget horror that is pumped out these days this is made because it can be made cheaply and turn a profit that can be funnelled into the next project. A look at Conley and Ives’ other projects only shows a film titled A Christmas In New York, which seems to suggest this is a pair of filmmakers whose only interest in a particular genre is how much money it can make. Their combined lack of interest in horror comes across as blindingly obvious as they indulge in some of the worst and visually cliched aspects of the horror genre, be it torture porn or “scary” clowns. This only further highlights their complete lack of skill when it comes to directing and eliciting convincing performances from the cast. Barton, when asked if she had been fighting with her husband before his disappearance, replies flatly “No. As a matter of fact we just had great sex.” This is the only highlight of the film.
However, the two real leads, Davis and Long, really embarrass themselves spectacularly. Long with the type of English accent that American actors attempt when they seem to have only heard it on daytime soap operas and not from an actual English person spends the majority of the film tied to a desk having to be subjected to a number of even more embarrassing performances from his captor. Davis gives an amateur masterclass in terrible acting with his stable of multiple personalities and costume changes, determined to give the worst one man show in the history of acting. The film only works as a cautionary tale of how low Mischa Barton’s career has fallen.
The Basement is bargain bin cinema that trades in nonsensical pointlessness without the benefit of unintentional amusement to warrant it and deserves to be buried and concreted over in a basement itself.
❉ Starring Mischa Barton, Jackson Davis, Cayleb Long, Tracie Thoms, and Bailey Anne Borders, ‘The Basement’ gets a 10-market theatrical and digital release on September 14 from Uncork’d Entertainment.
❉ Iain MacLeod was raised on the North coast of Scotland on a steady diet of 2000AD and Moviedrome. Now living in Glasgow as a struggling screenwriter he still buys too many comics and blu-rays. Has never seen a ghost but heard two talking in his bedroom when he was 4.