Wednesday, October 9, 2013

THE BASEMENT (Review)- Blood in the Snow 2013 Preview

*World Premiere*

review by AARON ALLEN

Directed and Written by Martin-André Young

Starring Matt Barker, Gleb Gorine, Michael Luckett, Vanessa Smythe

Shot on an isolated set with minimal cast, the Canadian indie thriller The Basement strips the horror genre down to its bare bones, and in doing so -- with an added splash of Donnie Darko weirdness -- delivers a tense, emotionally charged, and surprisingly impressive horror debut from director Martin-André Young.

Five teenagers are chased into a dark, claustrophobic basement in a rural house by a vicious knife-wielding killer. As they hastily barricade themselves in the cellar while one of their own lies bleeding to death, the panicked and shaken group quickly realizes that there is now no way out. Their only escape is back upstairs through the cellar door where the merciless killer waits. Tensions begin to mount and the body toll begins to rise. Faced with a relentless, ever-present threat, the group's sanity and trust in one another begins to unravel. As fear, paranoia, and rage come to a boil, it becomes clear that the biggest threat to their lives is not upstairs but, in fact, with them in the basement.

Featuring a relatively strong cast of young actors, with standout performances by Matt Barker and Michael Luckett as feuding brothers, The Basement is a creeping thriller about victims who seek safety in a basement but discover truly dark things about themselves and the horror of which they are capable. As an indie thriller, The Basement is exceptionally well-paced and atmospheric despite the fact it takes place in virtually one location for the majority of its running time. Like indie icon George A. Romero before him, director Martin-André Young takes cues from the low-budget philosophy of Night of the Living Dead. Young makes most out of very little by trimming the fat and ratcheting up the drama to distract us from the the film's humble means with escalating emotional conflict and an intriguing dash of semi-supernatural suggestions. Much credit also goes to the wonderful cinematography of Nigel Akam and the music of Luc Arsenault that turn the basement -- which is not even the most horrifying basement I've ever seen -- into an emotional hellbox of human misery. 

Solid pretty much the whole way through, the conclusion to The Basement, sadly, goes well off the reservation. The climax, I suspect, was engineered in an attempt to pay off the relatively slow-burn and mundane aspects of the plot with a more theatrical twist. Unfortunately, the ending careens away from the film and floats out into space in the absence of crucial plot, story, and thematic elements to tether it to the main thrust of the movie. Conclusion aside, The Basement proves that with dedication and the right talent behind and in front of the camera dedication, you can make a little go a long way. Martin-André Young can be proud of this feature debut, and I certainly hope we'll see more genre work from him in the future. Fans of indie film-making, make a date for The Blood in the Snow preview night, and take your own trip down into The Basement. What will you find?

Catch the world premiere of The Basement with cast and crew in attendance on October 10, 2013 at the Blood in the Snow Film Festival Preview Night. 9pm @ Carlton Cinema (20 Carlton St. Toronto).

Buy Advanced Tickets
or in person at Suspect Video (605 Markham - next to Honest Ed's).

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