Directors Vozo Zoltán Végh and László Illés, use a story concerning obviously a basement in a Budapest tenement house, while combining narrative horror, first person and of course found footage with a group of supposedly drunken 20-something friends. The film from writers László, who provides the story and Gera Lazlo Krisztian, wrote the screenplay, for the first horror feature of Vozo’s career on a budget of $50,000 and successful with distribution from Breaking Glass Pictures. The usage of various storytelling techniques switching from narrative and back to found footage leads more to frustration than entertainment (as it follows no pattern), and as for first person, shows a glimpse of success but it pitters out very quickly.
A strange and confusing opening precedes the main story, leads the audience to a dead end, as it quickly transitions to a mini party of English and Hungarian students blowing off steam at the an end of the semester at school, in a small apartment which of course leads to a police confrontation and a shutdown of the party. All of this becomes very foreshadowing and moves the story quickly to the moment in a mundane opening act. A few people remain after the party ends, namely the organizers (Gergo Szekér, Takács Zalán, Tom Nguyen, Sherin Bors) one decides it’s a perfect time for a séance by Suzie (Caroline Boulton) while everyone is drunk or high. During this so-called event some paranormal activity starts occurring, (door pounding – oh scary), one person acting strangely and the disappearance of a pet cat leads everyone in search the animal. Honestly, it is the motivation, which gets them all to venture into the basement, and there they begin a winding maze of echoing meows and bumping into a deranged woman with some wicked welcoming skills. The mannequins give a thrill reminiscent of Tourist Trap (1979), as well as some bizarre masks generating a few scares rather just the commonplace jump scares often found in horror films today. Sadly, this charm doesn’t last too long, and leaves the remaining group of friends into a chase of predator and prey with the body count adding up, but not the thrills. Some tension remains throughout the film, and never completely dissolves into a found footage flick, trying to lean to a mystery theme layered over a horror movie.
Krisztian delivers a safe and standard paint-by-numbers plot, but the direction contributes to a poor execution leaving the audience in some confusion, especially when watching everyone’s actions. The actor’s characters go for a bit of overacting and strangely reacting to everything, and trying to scare themselves but it feels very forced and not letting a general flow occur. For example, a moment of panic results an emotional charge of calmness, and vice versa, which ruins the tension building found in horror movies. The dialog exchange feels disjointed and lacking a cohesive bonding with actors, and while independent films allow very little time to rehearse, there’s still a little to work on it as the cameras, lights and sound all reset for the scene. It feels as if the director loses focus and control of the set, and forgets to let the location speak volumes and use some the creepy setting pieces to his advantage. The pacing of the story begins to wane early, and once in the basement the scenes start feeling a repeating mess, with the feeling of run down this hall and into this room and back out and down the passageway again. The gore and blood lack a serious free flow in the film and bit of subtitle reading required; fret not it won’t ruin the entire more, the script does that for you.
The basement will likely leave viewers cold and disappointed overall, yet some might feel intrigued to venture forth for a mere look at the flick, but be forewarned, many questions during the movie go unanswered by the conclusion. However, one of the many things you definitely can count on and even look for while searching through The Basement is how many clichés can you spot, and these prevent the film from achieving a frightening quality.
IMDb Rating: 3.3/10
Baron’s Rating: 3.5/10