Film Review: Horror film 'The Basement'

"The Basement,' which Uncork'd Entertainment released in limited theaters on September 15, is a horror film that uses limited sets and a small cast in an attempt to combine the serial killer genre with torture porn.

The film bears a strong resemblance to M. Night Shyamalan's 'Split' courtesy of its villain, Bill (Jackson Davis) -- a serial killer with several personalities that keeps kidnapped guitarist iCraig (Calyeb Long) in his basement. Unlike the Shyamalan film, 'The Basement' avoids any supernatural twist and focuses on psychological horror.

The film balances scenes of the victim tied up in the titular basement with his wife (Mischa Barton) attempting to find him. The killer's various personalities try to project the guilt of his crimes onto his victim as both characters gradually reveal clues about their respective pasts. The hero role-plays aspects of the killer's personality in an effort to outwit him. There is a genuinely interesting twist at the end.

Filmmakers Brian M. Conley and Nathan Ives admirably try to deliver a minimalist chiller in the style of a stage play but it bears too strong of a resemblance to other films like 'Saw,' 'Hostel' and the aforementioned 'Split.'

The performances are good but Long, although effective, does not seem at certain points like someone that has endured physical torture (he captures mortal fear perfectly near the end).

Davis, in the film's pivotal role, tries gamely but his various personalities seems more like tropes than fully-developed characters. To be fair, the film's twist validates this approach to the role.

'The Basement' is competently written and produced but never quite strikes the proper balance between character-driven horror and hard gore. This is not a classic but worth a look for horror completists or casual viewers in the proper mood.

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