Wednesday, December 23, 2009

Basement Jack

Basement Jack 2009
Director: Michael Shelton
Writer: Brian Patrick O'Toole
Starring Eric Peter-Kaiser, Michele Morrow, Sam Skoyrne, Lynn Lowry, Michael Patrick Green, Joel Brooks, Dakota Carter, Tiffany Shepis and James Williams

It is very hard to come up with a slasher film that is original, as most of the ideas that work the best have been mined to death. Every now and then you discover a new one that takes some tried and trued ideas and adds a new twist to them. Basement Jack is one of those types of films. It really adds a new twist to the slasher genre that really works. It adds the element of a psychopathic killer that can only kill during thunderstorms. It also uses the trope of a mother and son relationship that is perverted ala Psycho and really breathes new life into it. The deaths and graphics of the kills are amazing and the cast is really very good for a independent film. It was a film that was very polished and seems perfect to have a franchise with. It had a grainy and grimy look, but it did not look false and seemed very organic with the feel of the film. This is a film I thought really breathed some new life into the slasher genre that I have not seen since Adam Green's Hatchet. But whereas that film has a lot of comedy to it, this one is a straight out horror film, that has some of the elements of Psycho and Texas Chainsaw Massacre.
The plot basics are this, Karen Cooper (Morrow) is the lone survivor of a maniac known as Basement Jack (Peter-Kaiser), who committed a seven day killing spree that decimated her entire family. We flash forward to 11 years later and Karen is still living in feat that Jack will somehow return and finish her off. It seems now that Jack was found to not have received a fair trial and was sent to a mental institution and a year ago he was released and now murders that are the same as the ones he committed 11 years ago are happening again. It seems though, that the police think that Karen is behind the murders, but they will soon discover their mistake when Jack comes looking for her and wipes out any police officers between him and Karen. Karen soon realizes that her and Jack have unfinished business and that he is hunting her down and so it will come down to her and him, on one dark and stormy night and it seems nothing will stop Jack from making a blood soaked path to her.
This is a taut and suspenseful film. The direction by Shelton is very good. The use of the flashbacks between Jack and his mother really emphasize how damaged Jack was from the beginning and that he never had a chance to be a normal child. The way the film is shot almost has a documentary style and really works in the film's benefit. The script is very taut and moody. All the scenes with Jack and his mom are very creepy and borderline psychotic. The most jarring scene is when his mother makes him watch her having sex, so he knows how it is done, very disturbing. The character of Karen Cooper is the linchpin of the film and she is a very strong and capable female hero in the vein of Ripley from the Aliens films. Chris Watts is the cop trying to help her always seems way out of his league and is usually a detriment to the story. The cast is very exceptional for this film. Morrow as Karen really makes a strong protagonist for the film and you are always in her corner throughout the film. Peter-Kaiser as Jack never speaks but he does more with his eyes and his movements than he could do with his words and it works very well. Lynn Lowry as his mother, does a great job and it has been a long time since I have seen her and she still has a charismatic presence on film. She is very creepy and sick throughout the film. Skoyrne as Watts is decent, but he is a haphazard cop that reminds me more of Paul Blart Mall Cop than a police officer. The small role by Tiffany Shepis is great as always and she has the best death scene in the film. The SFX and effects in the film are amazing. The death of Shepis with her holding her intestines trying to push them back in is amazing and worth watching the film alone. This is a exceptional slasher film and except for the miscasting of Skoyryne and his shabby character this is a great film.
This one gets 4 out of 5

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