Film Review: In The Basement

in-the-basement

In The Basement Plot Summary:

A young girl (Alexandra Neary) is kidnapped by an older man (Herman Johansen) and taken to his basement out in the middle of no where with two other victims.  Embracing her true potential might be the only way she can save herself, and everyone else.

We’re doing something a little different today as we look at a short film by recent USC MFA graduate, Matthew McGregor. I spend a lot of time reviewing 2.5 hour bloated Michael Bay movies, so cut me a break, alright!  Plus, this is USC, so we aren’t messing around.  Why not get a fresh take from a hungry young filmmaker, as opposed to jaded ones. Anyway, let’s take a look at In the Basement.

With a title like In the Basement, you should expect a horror movie. Horror is my least favorite genre in all of film, yet I enjoyed the hell out of this thing.  That’s probably the best compliment I can give it.  Maybe it’s because I only had to watch 12 minutes, or maybe it’s because unlike so many other horror movies that have actual budgets, the director/writer actually gives us character development.  Imagine that?

The set-up is pretty simple – a creepy old guy who looks like John Malkovich’s twin brother brings his latest kidnapped victim (Cassandra) to his basement, which already holds two frightened occupants.  One of the victims is older, playing “the mother” (Tara Bopp) of the group.  She sums up his motivation in one simple line of dialogue, which gives a 1% sliver of sympathy for this guy, but he’s pretty nasty.

The real heart of the story though centers around Cassandra, as we get some non-linear storytelling.  Being a hardcore Nolan-ite, I obviously support that.  This is where the character development comes in.  You have a pretty good idea what’s being hinted at with this character, but not all the cards are shown.  This is basically a better version of Scarlet Witch.  When all is finally revealed though, it’s pretty damn cool, especially in a sequence involving bees.  We also get a pretty awesome scene that mimics one of my favorite moments from Looper.  There’s some voice modulation I could have done without though.  As we learn more about who Cassandra is, there’s also a really funny line from her mom (Stephanie Snow) as she questions an MRI specialist (Victor Chi), like he doesn’t know what he’s doing.  That’s pretty funny.

There really isn’t much more I can say without spoiling the rest of the movie.  I haven’t watched a lot of short films in my life time, but the whole idea is to get your point across efficiently, and there’s no doubt that was achieved here.  The movie can’t be seen yet as it’s fighting to get into festivals, but if you like horror and the supernatural, this will be a nice treat for when that day comes.  With this being a short film, I’d imagine this was made for a few nickels in movie terms, but the production looked great, and the effects were pretty seamless.  Hopefully I get to see this film again in an actual movie theater playing before a crappy full length horror movie.

Rating: 8 Creepy John Malkovich Look-a-Likes out of 10 

For more on In The Basement, click here.

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Daniel Cohen is the Film Editor for Pop-Break. Aside from reviews, Daniel does a weekly box office predictions column, and also contributes monthly Top Tens and Op-Ed’s on all things film. Daniel is a graduate of Bates College with a degree in English, and also studied Screenwriting at UCLA. He can also be read on www.movieshenanigans.com. His movie crush is Jessica Rabbit. Follow him on Twitter @dcohenwriter.
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Daniel Cohen is the hard-boiled Film Editor for the Pop Break. Besides reviews, Daniel writes box office predictions, Gotham reviews and Oscar coverage. He can also be found on the Breakcast. If Daniel was sprayed by Scarecrow's fear toxin, it would be watching Transformers: Revenge of the Fallen on a non-stop loop.