The Basement
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The Basement

Difficult is with a very small cast, a couple of locations and a limited budget able to create a thriller capable of arousing the right level of tension or fear. In these situations, when the resources are few, the alternation of places, events and actors, or the continuous use of pyrotechnic effects is impossible, so everything is played on the screenplay, the inventiveness in the staging, the performance of the interpreters. Sometimes the result is enlightening, since total freedom compensates for the scarcity of pecunks; others – all too often – on the contrary disappointing … The latter is precisely the case of The Basement, written and directed by the newcomer Brian M. Conley and Nathan Ives (A Christmas in New York), who fail to realize the very promising initial intuition with a worthy final surrender.

The film opens with a happy couple; it’s a normal evening and Kelly Owen (Mischa Barton) asks her husband Craig (Cayleb Long) to go and buy champagne at the corner shop. The man goes out, goes to the usual place, bought the drink, goes out to smoke a cigarette, but at that point First Man a stranger (Jackson Davis) stuns him, puts him in the car and takes him away! This is the concise preamble to a sort of long chamber drama torture, shot in a basement immersed in the semi-darkness, in which the kidnapped and his jailer converse for the duration. The only interruptions to the verbal flow? Some torture perpetrated by the second to the detriment of the first and – from time to time – a sequence in which the wife is seen worried because the spouse does not return. Found rather stimulating, the kidnapper with clear problems of mental dissociation every ten to fifteen minutes reveals himself dressed differently and has a different personality.

The idea behind the plot of The Basement has potential, there is no doubt, and does not necessarily require particular resources. A (nice) little ‘like in Split by M. Night Shyamalan, however, much of the development and suspense descends from the ability of the protagonists to convey a plausible sense of anguish for the victim, of madness for his tormentor. In the supernatural thriller of 2016 was the remarkable interpretation of James McAvoy in the role of a schizophrenic who kidnapped three girls, the more discreet Anya Taylor-Joy, Haley Lu Richardson and Jessica Sula to do much of the work. Unfortunately, Wonder Woman 1984 the same can not be said for the duo at the center of the film by Brian M. Conley and Nathan Ives. On the one hand, in fact, the pace is already much less decisive than the aforementioned, since the attempts to escape are almost non-existent and instead of three prey there is only one, also linked to a chair; on the other, the very heart of the film, that is, the exchange between Bill, the psychopath, and Craig is really disappointing.

Of course the script does not help, but most of the responsibility is of the inexpressive Cayleb Long (Interference), which does not communicate the palpable terror of those in danger of life, and above all of the true focus of the – missed – pathos: Jackson Davis (Deserted ). The latter should be the backbone of the drama and crescendo, instead it is almost grotesque when we see him with yet another improbable disguise to the limits of ridicule, from clowns to policemen, The Voyage of Doctor Dolittle from doctors to lawyers, from prisoners to women, finally a priest confessor. The structure, or the fact that each of these characters reveals a part of the mystery, is intelligent, but its implementation through the Pokemon Detective Pikachu recitation of its only interpreter is absolutely insufficient. In his – partial – excuse it must be said that it is a very difficult trial for many.

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The Basement
The Basement
The Basement