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Saturday, December 18, 2010

DVD Review: BASEMENT JACK (2009)

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------Review by contributing writer Scott Baker------

Directed by Michael Shelton
Distributed by Brink DVD
Released: 2009

When reviewing a slasher flick, you have to use a somewhat different set of criteria than if you were reviewing a creature-feature or monster movie. There are SO many slasher flicks out there, that one might say they saturate the market even more so than vampire movies. So for a serial killer movie to stand out, it has be inventive and scary…not original, per se, as the concept is pretty much a given. But something about the film has to, literally, jump out at you.

BASEMENT JACK is definitely one of those rare slasher movies that takes an old concept and reignites it in a flame of originality and terror.

If you've never heard of this film, it's done by the same folks that did Evilution (which was previously reviewed here), and it's kinda-sorta-almost a tie-in. The plot for BASEMENT JACK is this, courtesy of imdb.com:

Karen Cook was your average high school student until the night evil invaded her life. She would soon be known as the lone survivor of a seven-day killing spree perpetrated by a seventeen year old boy the world would come to call Basement Jack. For the next eleven years, Karen lived in fear that one day Jack Riley, a.k.a. Basement Jack, would be released. Then, a court hearing in 2006 found that Jack had not received a fair trial and released him from a state institution. A year later, murders bearing a shocking resemblance to Basement Jack's old M.O. start up around the town of Downers Grove. Karen soon realizes that Jack is hunting her and that the only way to survive is to find him and kill him.

Let me start by saying that the cinematography and camera-work in this movie is stunning. It is one of the first things that really caught my attention. I like a 'panning camera', meaning one that is not stationary for very long. In this film, the long, slow, sweeping camera pans are used to help build an enormous amount of suspense and also to keep the audience engaged with the scene. The result is an amazing, immersive experience.

The acting is excellent as well. Actor Eric Peter-Kaiser does an amazing job as Basement Jack. He truly personifies the image of a serial-killer, with his wide-eyed, blood-lusty gaze and slow, calculated movements. It is very creepy watching him as he sneaks into home after home and slaughters the occupants as if it’s a job an not something he enjoys. One of the most gut-wrenching scenes for me is when he kills and poses a young boy in front of a TV, so as to reenact playing video games.

I am pleasantly surprised and impressed with the gore as well. While there's not a lot of it, the strategic placement of it in each shot emphasizes its effect. Two of my favorites bits are: 1) when Jack strolls into the police station and slashes two police officers that are standing side-by-side across the face…the tops of their heads come popping off like jar lids, and 2) when another police officer is stabbed so many times that her intestines come pouring out and she tries to stuff them all back inside. Gruesome, I know…but else what do you expect from a slasher flick?

I only have two complaints about the film.

First, I think actor M. Steven Felty , who portrays the stereotypical hard-ass police officer boss, Sergeant Pignataro, is TOO stereotypical and comes off more comical than intense. After countless movies with this type of character at the fore-front (i.e. Lethal Weapon, Bad Boys, S.W.A.T., etc, etc), it's very hard for me to take this guy seriously.

Secondly, I don't know if I care much for the somewhat tie-in that this film has with Evilution. The common bond they share is an apartment complex known as the Necropolitan, which is overseen by the creepy Manager (played by the ever-convincing Nathan Bexton ). I have not been able to find any kind of reasoning or connection, but this could be a good thing or a bad thing, depending on the outcome.

Otherwise, BASEMENT JACK is a good, solid slasher flick and a definite positive addition to the genre. The suspense is taut, the writing is solid, and the execution is fantastic. This movie is director Michael Shelton's directorial debut, but I sure hope it's not his last.


CLICK HERE to watch the trailer
CLICK HERE to purchase the DVD
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CLICK HERE to visit the official website of Brink DVD

1 comment:

  1. Brian Patrick O'TooleJanuary 18, 2011 at 11:40 PM

    Hey Scott!
    Thank you so much for your insightful of review of our film BASEMENT JACK. As producer/writer, it is very encouraging when horror fans appreciate your work. I just wanted you to know that EVILUTION/BASEMENT JACK were part of a trilogy that was to end with THE NECROPOLITAN. Unfortunately, the parent Canadian company ran out of money and closed its doors so we were unable to tie up the Manager's storyline. Thanks again for your awesome review! Be sure to check out my next film ATLAS SHRUGGED PART 1 coming to theaters April 15, 2011. Best, Brian O'Toole

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