The Basement, a Hungarian entry from director László Illés is quick to fall apart at the seams with dodgy acting, bizarre camera work (that doesn’t settle to the very end) and a number of inconsistencies, however perseverance is the key with this title, it’s not all a complete write off and if asked the question “is it worth a watch?”, sure why not!
“After a huge house party, a group of international students looking for a thrill decide to investigate an abandoned basement. Officially, the basement has been abandoned for decades. However, they soon discover that it is anything but empty. What starts off as an exploratory séance ends in bloody mayhem when a malicious entity is summoned. Supernatural freaks, mystery, blood, and death lurk around every turn. As the survivors try to escape at all costs, their situation becomes more and more dire.”
The opening sequence of ‘The Basement’ may not be as original as you may wish but does however act as a good hook, a blogger/youtuber invites us to join his team while exploring some abandoned underground basement in Budapest, they are attacked by an unseen force after the door seals them in resulting in the team dying. We are then taken to the present and the above mentioned house party.
Ah the acting, which I can honestly say goes hand in hand with the script has zero consistency, switching from deadly serious moments to what feels like a sham at the blink of an eye, the group literally go from being at each other’s throats to working together like the fucking goonies and this is a quality that lingers until the very final scene!
Female lead Caroline Boulton as ‘Suzie’ does not gel, after arranging the séance suddenly becomes an expert in the paranormal, from being able to identify ‘ectoplasm’ to talking about how to correctly ‘expel a demon’, it’s just nonsense. Honestly its sloppy script work – I mean we have a group in a dark basement with an axe wielding, mannequin mask wearing killer roaming the tunnels and good old Suzie is talking about expelling demons? Suzie you’re chatting shit.
For once pacing isn’t even the issue here – things do move along fairly nicely, the runtime is around the 80 minute mark meaning that there simply isn’t the time for awkward breaks, it’s not all golden footage but it’s a swift experience.
We do get to see a handful of particularly violent moments – carried out really quite well but they are merely brief moments of respite from what feels like parody at points, the brick incident is a prime example of a wasted opportunity, the reaction from the cast simply does not match the severity of the brutality just witnessed, it feels like they shrug it off.
I have seen this mentioned elsewhere and I have to agree that camera work is jarring, the opening sequence is shot in POV followed by a mixture of fixed angles, properly shot film and typical ‘found-footage sway cam’ – personally I feel it should have just stayed as found-footage, its completely fit for purpose…….dark claustrophobic environment, creepy mannequins, prime time for some of the jump scares, it would have helped with the fragmented feel that we ended up with.
The film only really achieves its score from the finale which is thankfully quite disturbing, however you could relate to any viewers thought process to rate it much lower. Whilst its flaws are plentiful the assailant with a mannequin mask on is all sorts of messed up and saves the film from being a complete waste of time, this coupled with a handful of the red stuff means that ‘The Basement’ is a mess at times but also worth a watch.