Basement (UK DVD)
Reviewed by Gareth Jones
Starring Danny Dyer, Jimi Mistry, Soraya Radford, Emily Beecham
Directed by Asham Kamboj
Distributed by Revolver Entertainment
Prepare yourself: This may just be one of the shortest reviews I have ever concocted. The truth is, Asham Kamboj’s Basement is such an unbelievably vapid piece of work that to spend any increased amount of effort or time on it would be comparable to taking a bath in vinegar after crawling through a field of razor wire: It’s just needlessly self-punishing.
Opening with a montage of anti-war demonstrations, Basement quickly introduces us to student Gary (Danny “DVD Gold” Dyer), engaged in an argument with his mother over his attendance at various anti-war rallies and protests. His father died serving in Iraq, and his mother doesn’t want to see him betray his memory. Gary hooks up with a bunch of similarly useless students in the form of Derek (Mistry), Pru (Beecham), Sarah (Kierston Wareing) and Saffron (Lois Winstone), and on the way back from a demonstration, the group stop for quick toilet visit in the woods.
There, a mysterious hatch is discovered, and naturally, our group descend and find themselves trapped in a murky series of underground passages along with an unknown force bent on terrorising and killing them.
It’s a simple idea, but director Kamboj can’t even seem to pull that off effectively as, much like Chinese water torture, Basement becomes more and more hopeless and grating as the meagre 75-ish minute running time continues. Even at that sparse length, it feels as least twice as long as it should have been with almost the entire first act (and most of the second) consisting of nothing but characters wandering badly-lit passages talking about...well...pretty much nothing of any interest whatsoever. The film also contains some truly hideous dialogue right from the beginning, and to make matters worse, it’s all delivered by the cast with the conviction of a “working lunch” first attempt at a table read. Danny Dyer takes a lot of flak for his prolificacy in the UK straight-to-DVD market, but at least he’s normally a dependable enough performer. Here, he spends the majority of the film looking and sounding like he’s literally either sleepwalking or stoned. It’s an obvious attempt at playing a more subdued role that his normal London wide-boy typecasting, but without a skilled director to influence the cast, his performance is simply as morose as the rest of the flick. By the time he manages to pull out some decent displays of emotion, it’s far too late to matter. Ditto to RocknRolla and Exam’s Jimi Mistry, who embarrasses himself shockingly as he tries to inject some validity into the pathetic dialogue.
Violence is sporadic and scarce, consisting mainly of a few stabbings and some blood thrown around. Nothing impressive or noteworthy for gorehounds there.
Visually, Basement is under-lit and uninteresting, almost entirely devoid of any kind of tension, shocks or thrills, and sports a plotline so insipid that the “shock” ending comes and goes with so little in the way of interest that you’ll probably just sit there for a few moments wondering what just happened. Then, you’ll decide that you really just don’t give a fuck in any case. Anti-war and Government sensibilities form the foundation of Basement, which fully believes that it holds a much more important message than it actually does. It comes across like the work of some vacuous, self—important Sociology students who got together with the Film Club to make an “important” movie. Which turned out shit.
Basement is 75 minutes of sheer, unadulterated nothingness. It’s an entertainment black hole. There isn’t a single line, performance, camera movement, idea, scene, shot or piece of editing that warrants any kind of praise or attention. You’ll be better off pretending it simply doesn’t exist – I know I will.
There isn’t really any point going into detail on Revolver’s DVD presentation of Basement as the flick itself is so dank and murky that even the cleanest of transfers wouldn’t be worth the effort. Audio is fine but won’t rock your world (or make much of a dent in it). Special features on the disc consist of some behind-the-scenes footage and interviews with the cast; however, these were not included on the screener. One would assume they’re probably about as interesting as the film itself.
0 out of 5
1 1/2 out of 5
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