The Movie Waffler Now On Netflix - THE BASEMENT | The Movie Waffler

Now On Netflix - THE BASEMENT

the basement mischa barton
A man is abducted and held captive by a clown.

Review by Sue Finn

Directed by: Brian M. Conley, Nathan Ives

Starring: Mischa Barton, Tracie Thoms, Bailey Anne Borders, Jackson Davis, Jessica Sonneborn

the basement mischa barton poster

Geminis have a dual personality; at least that’s what we are told by a title card before the film begins, hinting at the inclusion of a zodiac type influence in the coming tale but never fully exploring this.

A pre-credits screaming bouncing-boobs blowtorch murder sets the scene for the movie in a much better fashion than the zodiac nonsense does.

Mischa Barton (remember her?) approaches her piano-playing “sexy husband” (Cayleb Long) to go get more champagne, which he heads off into the night to do.

At the corner store he spies the LA Chronicle with the headline ‘Gemini killer still at large!’

Apparently ‘sexy husband’ is having a sneaky affair with someone called Bianca, but before you can say ‘cheater’ he’s nabbed by someone in a mysterious van decorated with a clown to hire for children’s parties.

He awakens later to find that Bailee the clown has him tied to a chair.

the basement movie

Bailee calls him Billy but as hubby explains, that’s not his name.

After a few juggling tricks and some violence, Bailee leaves him to his own devices, confused and afraid, still tied to the chair.

We flash to a shot of Mischa attempting to look worried.

A policeman comes into the basement and the man in the chair explains he is Craig Owen, a musician, and that he is the victim, with the man they want hiding upstairs. The policeman calls him a lowlife scum and leaves the room.

A detective comes in to interrogate him and it now becomes clear that this is the same man who was ‘playing’ the policeman; likely the same man who was Bailee and the same person who kidnapped Craig in the first place.

He wants to know where the bodies are, and knocks two of Craig’s teeth in with his gun while the fake mouth they’ve used for this scene stays perfectly still (yeah right).

The detective spells out Craig/Billy's crimes - a clown who cuts people’s heads off with a blowtorch. Craig realises he is dealing with the real killer and tries to play along.

Meanwhile Kelly Owen (Barton) takes matters into her own hands and visits the corner store to ask the clerk, Lauren, if she saw anything out of the ordinary. Lauren is played by Tracie Thoms, who looks radically different than her Death Proof days - and is totally wasted here.

the basement movie

A prisoner who tells him he is going to end up in San Quentin is next to taunt poor Craig. He then chops off some body parts while Craig once again holds stock still - guess you don’t want to mess up those effects shots.

Kelly goes to visit her best friend Bianca (the other side of Craig’s philandering) who unconvincingly says “I’m your best friend” with a big empty smile stretched across her face.

Meanwhile Craig now has a doctor to visit who says he can’t reattach the body parts unless he keeps them fresh in a glass of milk. (?)

Of course, all of the visits are by the actual Gemini killer (Jackson Davis), who is enacting his own capture, arrest, torture, conviction, and jail term with Craig. He has 12 personalities and each one is going to have their moment to shine.

The ending has a good gory moment and then a twisty reveal delivered in a fairly flat way that robs it of any real satisfaction or fanfare, and it doesn’t all make sense when you look back on some of the plot points.

Nevertheless the acting, particularly from the astonishingly good Davis, raises the material in ways it possibly doesn’t deserve.

Occasionally the dialogue seems a little naff - killers don’t generally refer to themselves as “very lost souls” and still expect to be frightening.

the basement mischa barton

It feels like a stage play - essentially a man locked in a basement while various personas visit him - and maybe this is a direction the writer/directors Brian M. Conley and Nathan Ives should explore. I think it would make a great play, particularly if they used the same cast.

As a film it's an oddity in that it lacks a sense of malice or dread but does have a dark pull that keeps you watching, and an empathetic humanity for the troubled killer that is uncommon in these types of movies. It suffers from a claustrophobic feel and dodgy effects, but is elevated by those two outstanding performances by Davis and Long.

Once again we have an average film with above average ideas that just needs some greater spark to realise it in a more dynamic way. Maybe if Conley and Ives had leaned more on the superior psychological aspect and let some of the underdone horror go, it would have been a more successful outing.

The main casting is perfect, the storyline is a compelling one, but it's a near-miss for me.

The Basement is on Netflix UK now.