While not the most original set-up in horror film history, the beginning of The Basement at least promises some good fun. Something evil lurks beneath an apartment building in which a group of pretty young international students reside. When a late night party gets out of hand and a grumpy neighbor calls the police, the movie starts a rapid descent into boredom and ridiculousness, with likable characters becoming insufferable.
It starts when Suzie (Caroline Boulton) leads a handful of remaining partygoers in a séance. In a concise prologue, we’ve already seen what happens to people who explore the basement. Why is a séance required for these victims? Their reason for going downstairs is a runaway cat, so all the séance adds is a point to argue as they try to explain the nature of events that happen. It provides an opportunity for annoying dialog among them, but no narrative purpose for us.
The movie’s worst sin is not the story; it’s the execution. It’s hard to botch scares when the characters are wandering dark, tight hallways and getting lost in a seemingly transformative maze. Ghostly mannequins and creepy masks should generate thrills. However, the pacing is excruciating and the potential jumps are so repetitive that an 82-minute movie seems to drag beyond two hours.
I have to believe that when writer Gera Laszlo Krisztian and co-directors Laszlo Illes and Vozo Zoltan Vegh finally get to the twist, it’s either not a surprise or you’re comatose and just don’t care. I was actually suspicious about a possible twist in the early moments of the movie. The thing is, on paper it sounds interesting. Something more satisfying could have been done with it, but is not. It just added more time until the end credits rolled.
I don’t usually like to blame a bad horror movie on the poor decisions its characters make. Number one, we don’t know how we’d really act if we were in the same situation, and number two, horror movies would be few and far between if their characters made smart decisions. The characters function on a sub-moronic level. When all they’ve wanted to do is find an exit, they shouldn’t stop to make out when it is just within sight. Unfortunately The Basement leaves the audience disappointed and wanting more.