Ever since Kickstarter, uh, kickstarted the “crowd funding” of various projects, it seemed like a no-brainer that indie filmmakers would be a perfect fit for the service. Rather than running around in the “old-school” way, trying to secure funding from investors, you now just post your project on Kickstarter for would-be investors to send money your way. One such project is Do You Like My Basement?, written and directed by Roger Sewhcomar, whose previous work up to this point includes a couple of shorts and a documentary.
Do You Like My Basement? centers around an aspiring filmmaker named Stanley Farmer, who from a young age has taken a liking to having a camcorder and filming people. Stanley’s goal is to create the ultimate reality horror film. In order to do so, he “rents” out an apartment and hosts interviews for actors in the apartment’s basement, which would double as the film’s set. Needless to say, Stanley has an “unorthodox” way of conducting the interviews, as well as showing a penchant for more than just filmmaking.
Shot almost entirely from the view of either Stanley’s handheld or cameras placed around the apartment, Do You Like My Basement? maintains a documentary-style shooting that gives the film a unique first-person feel. There’s no exaggerated nausea-inducing shakycam moments (which is a relief), and oftentimes the composition of shots through holes in plastic sheets or from the eye level of a cutting board as Stanley stuffs a chicken are pretty fun to see. The handheld shots also lead to some pretty creepy moments, particularly when Stanley is “moving around” or asking some of his unusual interview questions.
Speaking of Stanley, we never entirely see his face (as it’s always behind the camera), and are instead treated to only his voice, which when coupled with his British accent, makes it feel as if we’re being treated to a documentary by the BBC (albeit a sinister one). This again also helps with the creep factor in Stanley’s interviews, whose calm demeanor when asking the increasingly disturbing questions during interviews is unsettling. Great job by Charlie Floyd for that. As for the rest of the actors, they do a fairly good job, though some performances (such as Jessica Green’s unconvincing turn as one of the interviewees) are weaker than others.
Unfortunately, the film suffers in the writing department, which becomes very apparent as the film progresses. Apart from some rather big plotholes (such as what happened to the owners of the apartment?), the film doesn’t give anyone really to root for, since the actors auditioning for the film are for the most part unlikeable or are just plain stupid. Even Stanley isn’t given much of a background or anything really to endear him to the viewer, leaving you feeling lost in that respect. As well, we also get some clichéd movie moments that are seemingly pulled out of nowhere (where’d that red button come from?). The ending of the film feels slapped together and reminiscent of something of a Saw trap that is neither impressive nor executed particularly well, mixed in with a Bond-esque villain laugh from behind the a security camera. The “ha-ha” epilogues of the actors played at the end of the film only seem to make the ending worse, like someone covering up an embarrassing moment with a bad joke.
Do You Like My Basement? started out with promise, but ultimately started tripping itself up before crashing at the end. Some great performances by much of the cast are almost in the film being bogged down by its writing, which unfortunately happens a lot when indie filmmakers take on more than just directing. As it stands, this basement looked nice, but when it came to construction, needed a better contractor.