Director: Nathan Ives and Brian M. Conley
Cast: Jackson Davis, Cayleb Long, Bailey Anne Borders, Mischa Barton
Production Company: The Conley Company
Runtime: 89 minutes
If you have ever attended a local talent contest, then you can appreciate the night of gruelling torture Craig Owen is forced to experience. The writer/director duo, Nathan Ives and Brian M. Conley have crafted a unique psychological thriller with their latest feature, The Basement (2018).
In this one, the unsuspecting Craig Owen (Cayleb Long) has it all as a talented and successful L.A. musician, married to his loving wife, Kelly (Mischa Barton). We soon find out that, despite having “great sex” together, he has been cheating on her with her best friend, Bianca (Bailey Anne Borders).
One evening, Kelly sends Craig on an errand to pick up more champagne at the local bodega. Things suddenly take a turn for the worst, when he is ambushed and abducted by Bill Anderson (Jackson Davis), who has been making headlines as the notorious Gemini Killer.
Cayleb Long and Jackson Davis carry most of the film, with decent performances by both. Long provides some believable moments as an ordinary man who has been forced out of his element and placed in the role of a relentlessly tortured victim. Davis competently demonstrates a diverse range, as the Gemini Killer goes through something like a dozen personality changes throughout the course of the narrative.
For an independent feature, The Basement boasts some impressive production value. The sets are carefully designed and lit to suit the film’s realistic and more nightmarish moments. A lot of effort clearly went into establishing Craig’s life in the lap of luxury, with use of a palatial mansion and fancy Italian sports car. The make-up and gore FX are wonderfully hideous and will satisfy fans of this type of thing. The costume design and wardrobe selection for the Gemini Killer in particular are impressive, as his aesthetic constantly changes to appropriately match his many changes in personality.
The cinematography is particularly noteworthy, in that TV veteran Kenneth Stipe makes bold use of movement and angles. There is an engaging long take sequence early in the film, which simply shows Craig shopping for champagne in a convenience store, but has an immersive effect on the viewer.
While the bulk of the film takes place in the Gemini Killer’s basement torture chamber, Stipe’s camera work infused with Brady Hallongren’s editing have a kinetic effect that keep the plot moving at a tight pace. Fellow TV veteran, Aaron J. Goldstein’s atmospheric score is well-balanced, enhancing the intensity at all the appropriate moments.
With The Basement, Ives and Conley have created an unforgiving mind game that keeps the viewer guessing until its twist ending, culminating in an impressively gruesome climax.
– Luke Meneok, The Nasty Snob
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