Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Basement Jack

You will learn not to be a bad boy


Jarv’s Rating: Damn it, I’m really not sure. Oh, what the fuck, half a Chang out of 4. Completely derivative and uninspired slasher movie with a reasonably cool villain and a fucking stupid ending. Not to mention a fucking stupid beginning and a pretty fucking stupid middle.

Not to be confused with electronica/ house act Basement Jaxx. I never really liked them, but I do have to concede that they did have their moments, before they became confused about being actual “artists” rather than sample merchants. Still that “Where’s your head at?” video was pretty cool. The one with the monkeys. This film, on the other hand, does not feature monkeys, particularly monkeys that have ugly human faces and glasses and whatnot. It does, however, feature a stab at a new “slasher” villain, a couple of decent performances and a pretty well thought out origin story. It is also pretty fucking stupid.

On one hand, I do want to applaud people who decide to breathe new life into slasher movies. Really, as a concept, the genre is akin to Jason Vorhees himself- completely dead, yet some douchebag keeps digging it up and electrocuting it back to life, whereupon it will wreak havoc in the form of boredom on unsuspecting horny teenagers everywhere. However, on the other hand, almost all of them blow, but worse than that the concept is so played out that we know every single beat of the film, we know the twists, we know that a character must die at a certain point in the film, we even know that when a character says certain lines (notably “I’ll be right back”) he may as well have already tied the toe-tag on himself.

Droid's wedding night was going to plan

Basement Jack is a 2009 DTV entry that attempts to create a new Michael Myers type big silent killer. The premise this time is that he lurks around in your basement, before popping out and eviscerating your family. This strikes me as ungrateful, it isn’t as if the bastard has been paying rent or anything, and he’s still got the temerity to murder the poor people that have been sheltering him. The film opens with two horny teenagers attempting to ride the pork bus into tuna town in their car (co-incidentally parked right outside her parents’ house- which is a bit dumb now I come to mention it). Anyhow, (there’s going to be a lot of these in this review), she’s on the blob or some such, and therefore has no desire at all for sex. Argument ensues, teenagers enter house and discover that silent douchebag has butchered her family.

Anyhoo, cut to years later and we’re introduced again to Karen (who has morphed into the rather fetching Michelle Morrow- even if she does display a severe stubbornness in keeping her clothes on). She’s pursuing Jack Riley, because she believes that he’s out of prison. Most people when they come out of prison want 3 things: A steak, beer, and sex, wait, scratch that, that’s what most men want full stop. Jack, however, doesn’t want delicious beer, tasty steak and nasty sex. He wants to kill people.

Aaaaaanyhoooooooow, for reasons to dimwitted to bother going into, she’s arrested by the local cops and there’s lots of arguing while Jack murders people with impunity. Eventually Jack comes for her in the police station.

Aaaaaaaaaaaaaaanyyyyyyyhooooooooooow, she somehow escapes and hides in a basement, they have a fight, she beats him up (pathetic), he dons half a broken doll’s head (fuck knows why), then they have another fight and he gets electrocuted, blown up, yada, yada yada, but has escaped….

Really this is a dumb film.

"Why officer, this is entrapment"

There’s an episode of Family Guy where Peter begins to write smutty books. He’s reading one to Lois, and strings together a series of random sentences, culminating with “Did I mention that he was a robot”. Well, that’s how I feel describing this film. Shit just happens because it is required to happen, and never for any good reason. For example, there’s the aforementioned sex in the drive- this only happens so she can avoid the killing. When the film starts, she finds a guy in a car. She steals the car, but shit, wait, did I mention that he’s dead? Oh… (By the way, this corpse that she left on the side of the road is never mentioned again). See what I mean? This film actually plays out as if Peter Griffin had written it. That is not a good thing. Finally on this score, because the late part of the last decade was all about reboots and origins and whatnot we’re given lengthy flashbacks of Jack being tortured by his clearly bonkers mother (Lynn Lowry). If it weren’t for the fact that these are clearly the best bits of the film, it would be severely aggravating.

The acting is actually quite good, believe it or not. Morrow is fine as Karen, and Eric Peter-Keiser is quite good as Jack. The cops are crap, with Sam Skoryna in particular being pretty awful. Lynn Lowry is, as mentioned, astonishingly mental as Jack’s mother and she easily comes away with all the acting plaudits from this film.

Eat your battery, dear, there are children in Ethiopia without enough for themselves

I haven’t done one of these in ages, but I really think I have to, so here’s a good, bad and AWESOME for Basement Jack:

The Good: The aforementioned performances. Some of the gore effects aren’t too bad either.

The Bad: The writing is shit, terrible, actually and not entertaining. For example, Jack slaughters every cop in the police station using a blade before one of them can get a shot off. This wouldn’t be too bad, but one of them has the gun in her fucking hand and has to walk the length of a corridor before he can kill her. Why not, you know, pull the trigger? It’s also jarring as hell. Not to mention that our silent killer gets his arse kicked by a girl.

The AWESOME: Jack’s weapon is a big fucking machete superglued onto a hospital crutch so he can’t drop it or something. Anyway, that’s it.

The Cure were still rockin' New Mexico in 2008. Not many people know that.

Basement Jack isn’t a bad slasher. Take my word for it, compared to some of the half-arsed and half-baked efforts out there it’s almost good. Unfortunately it’s hamstrung because it’s written in the style of a six-year-old explaining what he did on his holidays. It’s aggravating and infuriating as there is an actual good film in here, and the slaughters themselves are well staged, but when you’re watching it and wondering to yourself  “Oh, shouldn’t I have been told that earlier” or “is this essential to the plot” then you can tell there are far too many mediocre- actively bad ideas on screen.

Shittest cops ever put on screen. Including the Keystone cops.

Needless to say, I don’t recommend this. It’s toss, if I’m honest, and pretty much a failure all round. I suspect that half the crap thrown at the screen here (Karen apparently can just turn up and wander round murder scenes until the cops turn up to arrest her) is because there isn’t enough material for a feature length run time. Coherently structured, and properly rewritten this may have been good, but that isn’t what happened- what did happen is a waste of two actresses going far above and beyond the call of duty.

Fuck you Jack, cunt, back in the basement with you.

Until next time,

Jarv

Post comment edit: While I didn’t like this film, and do stand by this review, it seems churlish of me to not point out that Basement Jack was unlucky in that I saw it at the end of a particularly hateful slasher binge (most of which I haven’t even bothered reviewing they’re that bad- and it would be a lousy piece of writing on my behalf to just call everyone involved with some of them rude names. Secondly, while I thought it was bad, Mrs. Jarv liked it. Thanks, Jarv

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About Jarv

Workshy cynic, given to posting reams of nonsense on the internet and watching films that have inexplicably got a piss poor reputation.

46 responses to “Jarv’s Schlock Vault: Basement Jack”

  1. Bartleby says :

    I saw this. the half of chang might be too kind. It doesnt even try to hide how poor and derivative it is. You should be forced to get a permit to make slasher movies, a permit only given after you have supplied a script, a budget and a director for review.

  2. Bartleby says :

    thew doll maks is because thats what was written on the napkin the director had when he started shooting the movie ..it said: gimmick: basement, weapon: machete crutch, survivor girl: hottie indie chick, mask: –teenage ninja mutant turtle mask– .err, no…baby doll maks.

    • Jarv says :

      That’s better than what I was thinking-

      THey’re filming a scene, and the klutz uses his crutch and accidentally breaks the prop that clearly cost half the budget- so with crap brilliant off the cuff improvisation they adapted it into the scene

    • Jarv says :

      God that’s so tragic.

      I bet that’s what happened. I mean all the electricity torture he went through with his mother and whatnot shows why he only kills people in thunderstorms.

  3. Bartleby says :

    the worst part is Im sure we are both wrong and in reality the director probably lost sleep over it.. baby doll mask shows his duality, his broken psyche, half of a damaged man peering out from behind fractured childhood. No, it’s a broken babydoll maks and it looks stupid. No one will take you seriously. From one agnle you are terrifiyng, from another, ready for a tea party.

  4. Frank Marmoset says :

    Was there a scene where Jack masturbated in the basement before or after (after would make more sense) doing his murder business?

    Because that would put another spin on the film’s title. Levels and so on.

  5. Frank Marmoset says :

    This sounds pretty bad. They keep churning out those slashers and they’re almost always terrible. It must be the laziest genre ever invented.

    Luckily, it doesn’t star any third rate actors I recognise off the telly, so it should be easy to avoid.

    • Jarv says :

      I’m fucked because Lovefilm is on the PS3, it only lists alphabetically on Browse and Mrs. jarv loves fucking Slashers. I’ve seen loads of them recently.

  6. Continentalop says :

    As Bart knows I’m writing a “slasher” script, so Jarv’s reviews and criticisms towards the genre are quite useful.

    Note to self: add a reason for my killer to wear a doll’s mask and add nudity. Female nudity.

    • Jarv says :

      add lots of nudity. Female nudity

      I watch so many of these and boob Always makes them better.

      Biggest piece of advice is don’t put in asshole characters.

      Talking about boob I just watched 3 some in Diary of a Call Girl and NO FUCKING boob. That show is shit.

      • Continentalop says :

        Could you define “asshole character” and give an example just so I’m on the same page?

      • Jarv says :

        The amount of Slasher/ Horror films that are ruined because 1 or more of the victims is a totally unlikable cockhead is ridiculous. For example, in that “Boo” shit I watched the other week, it was sunk because the character was such a fucking nob from word go. If you are actively rooting for him/ her to die and he’s lasting forever (this is one of the big flaws of Eli Roth films) then the film becomes a trial to watch and although the inevitable pay-off is enjoyable, it never makes up for the aggravation that we’ve previously sat through.

        This is a hard one to define, but anyone that is clearly a prick needs sidelining and offing early on (so he doesn’t make you root for the killer) or isolating from the survivor girl. Else it becomes an exercise in aggravation.

      • Droid says :

        That happens a lot though. It’s seems like the screenwriter feels that the “hero” needs some kind of conflict with someone other than the guy who’s trying to cave his head in with a machete. A couple of examples are Final Destination, where they end up mates and the asshole ends up getting squashed by a sign in that really shitty shock ending, or the Friday the 13th remake. That cockhead lasted nearly the entire way, when he obviously deserved to die first.

      • Jarv says :

        It’s so aggravating. I don’t mind offing a douchebag, but Fear Island the entire fucking plot hung on that this douchebag had shagged a chick when drunk and she’d been killed in an accident. That the film WASN’T a complete failure was down to the performance of said douchebag, who came across as incredibly likable- and you can see why.

        Also, don’t cast someone that people hate in any role- what’s the only reason to watch House of Wax? To see Paris Hilton’s head/ spear interface. Takes you out of the film.

        I think good slashers rely on atmosphere, and it’s impossible to conjure atmosphere when the audience is berating the screen at one character.

      • Continentalop says :

        Ok. I agree with that. The only exception to that rule I can think of is Franklin in the original Texas Chainsaw Massacre, and that worked because: A) TCM is not really a slasher film; B) Franklin is is a wheel chair; C) a lots of bad things happen to him in the film, making him slightly sympathetic; D) his whining is also played partially for comic relief; and E) his unlikability actually makes him seem more human and realistic, and makes the faux true story more believable.

        But excluding Franklin I can’t think of one dick who works in a slasher film.

      • Jarv says :

        Lillard in Scream. But he’s the killer, so it doesn’t count.

      • koutchboom says :

        Wasn’t Bacon the dick in the first Jason?

  7. Continentalop says :

    Question: is there plans on doing spin offs like Attic Jack, Garage Jack, Pantry Jack or maybe Outhouse Jack?

  8. just pillow talk says :

    Bonus Room Jack
    Sunroom Jack
    Walk-in-closet Jack
    Workshop Jack
    Mudroom Jack

  9. Continentalop says :

    Sitting Room Jack
    Steam room Jack
    Deck or Porch Jack
    Laundry Chute Jack
    Wine Cellar Jack
    Studio Apartment Jack

  10. ThereWolf says :

    Right, I can safely avoid that then. Nice one.

    Actually, you’ve got another series to do now: Films featuring the shittest cops in cinema. That’ll be an entertaining, possibly soul crushing, trawl…

  11. Brian O'Toole says :

    As the screenwriter, and one of the producers of Basement Jack, I wanted to take a moment and say thanks for taking the time to watch the film and give it your honest review! Sorry the writing struck a raw nerve with you and some of your readers but in turn I am glad that you found the female performances somewhat redeeming – everyone worked really hard and did their best on the film.

    Best,

    Brian O’Toole

    • Jarv says :

      Thanks for the nice comment Brian, it’s unusual that someone involved in a film I’ve been rude about hasn’t threatened me with a beating.

      To be fair, and I should have mentioned it, but I didn’t- Mrs. Jarv really enjoyed this.

      I have to say, though, that Basement Jack was unlucky in that I saw it at the end of a massive binge of slashers, and for the record it is nowhere near the worst of them.

      Best of luck with whatever you’ve got coming next.

  12. Michele Morrow says :

    Hah, thanks for being nice to me at least!

    Even if YOU didn’t like that Jack got his ass kicked by a girl (TWICE), I enjoyed it quite a bit ;)

    Thank you for your honest review.

    Michele Morrow aka Karen Cook

    • Jarv says :

      Oh God. I’m now feeling terrible about this review.

      Everyone DID seem to be having fun, and Mrs. Jarv did really enjoy it. Unfortunately, it was unlucky in that it came at the end of a heinous binge of mostly rubbish slasher films and I’m now feeling that I’ve been unnecessarily mean.

      This isn’t meant personally, honest, and I hope that everyone goes on to better things. Compared to some of the crap I’ve seen (Boo) Basement Jack was really good.

      Christ, I’d better read that review again.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Why should you feel terrible? You saw a movie you didn’t like and wrote a fair review about no need to apologize or feel bad. Come on Jarv don’t go soft on me now, where is that famous English rectitude and backbone? don’t go all French on me here.

        Here’s what I don’t understand. I sometimes go out of my to provoke a response from somebody by being deliberately rude yet you get response from people for fair and calm articles. Maybe I should target the bottom feeders maybe that’s the thing to do. My problem is that I can’t sit through these sorts of movies anymore they bore the hell out of me now.

      • Jarv says :

        The thing about that review is that I wasn’t that rude. I’ve been far ruder about other stuff- anderwank.

        I’d be much happier if she’d called me rude names.

        I miss Murphy.

      • Spud McSpud says :

        Xi – It’s very much an English thing. We say exactly what we feel (probably more vehemently than we normally would), and upon discovering that it offends someone, profusely apologise. Then we take tea in the afternoon, and ensure that the crusts are cutt off the cucumber sandwiches ;D

        Jarv – Fuck, at least you have the good grace to feel bad when someone you’ve slated turns up and is nice about it. Congratulate yourself on still remaining human, and remember that if the movie is as shit as you say it is, the makers probably also realise this :D

        I think we’ve all learned from this experience, and I feel that we’re all better people for it. Take care of yourselves, and each other…

  13. ThereWolf says :

    Well, Brian and Michele (aka KC) sound very sensible.

    So I will watch Basement Jack after all. If they’ve taken the trouble, so shall I…

    • Spud McSpud says :

      There’s an interesting interview with Joe Cornish about ATTACK THE BLOCK in EMPIRE this month, in which he declares Edgar Wright to be the Nicest Man in Movies, because he will not say anything negative about any other movies at all. When he came to direct ATTACK THE BLOCK, he now says he understands Wright’s point of view – even if what you end up with turns out to be shite, it is a Herculean effort to get even the most basic shot-on-hand-held-HD-camera-and-filmed-in-council-estates movies made – it takes up every hour of every day, and ruins your life for the duration of making it. So even a movie such as BASEMENT JACK (which I haven’t seen, so am reserving judgment on until I do see it) has had a LOT of heart and soul poured into it, and deserves basic respect for the fact that they at least got off their asses and made a movie. It may not be CITIZEN KANE, or even FRIDAY THE 13TH, but fuck it – they had a punt, and that’s a big deal.

      That said, if a movie is bad, call it what it is. It’s very, very heartening to see that there are still people out there who can take criticism on the chin and stil come out swinging. Brian, Michelle, best of luck with whatever you do next. Whether Jarv is right or wrong, you made a movie. That’s a huge deal, so props to you :D

      • koutchboom says :

        Yeah Spud that reminds me of that George Carlin quote something like “If hundreds of people got together and spent their time all in effort to entertain me, then thats good enough for me.”

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Spud,

        To me that quote by Cornish sounds like a load of self servings bullshit. I realize I am coming at this from a point of view of somebody who is not artistically inclined in anyway shape or form so I am 180 degrees different from the person making these stupid claims I get that really I do.

        With all due respect to our friends Barfy, Continentalops and the good Col. Tigh-Fighter who all work in the “biz” or to you in your theater work, in the wider world films and the stage don’t matter enough(except from a monetary view) to get it’s own standard of judging or is free from criticism. There is not one bit of difference between a well made movie or a well made piece of furniture. Quality is quality the medium doesn’t’ matter. A well made house, car or a fine English sporting arm also has “heart” poured into by is creators. To say that movie writer, director or actor gets a pass from criticism becasue they made a movie, implying that the “heart “, of a movie is better then the heart of hand crafted Bentley is utterly preposterous sounding to me.

      • Spud McSpud says :

        The downside though, Xi, is that preferences to furniture or movies etc is subjective. For example, Frank hated HELLRAISER II: HELLBOUND, whereas many of us liked it. Can you argue it’s a shit movie? You CAN argue that it’s badly written – often the narrative is nonsensical, the motivations of some characters doesn’t make sense etc – and you can also argue that the SFX are ropey, or the design work on Hell is shitty. But you can’t argue whether or not it’s worthy of being liked – God knows Jarv’s idea of liking a movie is a universe away from what most people’s idea of liking a movie is.

        I do think anyone who creates something should be open to criticism – and that’s why it’s great to see people like Brian and Michelle here taking it so well. Yes, Jarv backed down a little, but probably as much in recognition that he has inflated his sense of outrage for comedy effect in the review as anything else (God knows when I go off about a movie on a site, at least 50% of what I say is inflated to make the outrage funnier, and I don’t think I’m alone in that), and there’s no reason not to reconcile the idea that though a movie has turned out to be completely shit – and I imagine there are far more shit movies out there than good ones – we can admire the fact that many people gave up time, money, effort and talent to make that movie, and thought it hasn’t worked out the way they thought, at least they tried. That’s kind of the idea. I don’t think anyone goes out intentionally to make a shit movie (well, maybe Uwe Bollocks excepted) but most just turn out that way.

        Either way, I don’t think anyone should get a pass just for trying – but if something turns out to be shit, you can still admire their having a go at making something.

      • Jarv says :

        I’ve reread this review *again* and it actually is not that bad.

        Compared to the Bloodrayne review it is balanced and mostly what comes across is my frustration At the film.

        Shit, I’ve been far ruder than this (check out the black cat review) but never had this response.

        It’s a bad film but I haven’ been unfair

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Spud I agree that preferences and tastes change and are subjective but what doesn’t change is the quality of construction of an item no matter if it’s a film or chair. Quality is quality, inversely shit is shit.

        Also a vast majority people who “give up” time and effort etc to make a movie aren’t doing it for free right? They expect some sort of remuneration be it the opportunity to continue in the industry, fame, money or all three. Making a movie is a job, that the movie people chose to do, just like you and I chose to do our work. The idea that movie folk are somehow doing something altruistic or better then you or I, by making a movie, isn’t flying with me. I suspect most cocksuckers that work in the movie industry probably hold that thought deeply ingrained in their being and fuck that it’s a lie.

        As a matter of fact I invite any Hollywood shitbag to come spend the day with me without an assistant, a blackberry, an agent, a manager, a writing partner, a PR person or any other kiss motherfucker that hangs out and works the margins in Hollywood. Those assholes would quit before lunch.

      • Jarv says :

        I’m a marketing whore and a deeply out of shape one but I reckon I would do better than those scumbags.

      • Xiphos0311 says :

        Jarv I think you wouldn’t have much of a problem.

    • Spud McSpud says :

      And all things considered, however bad BASEMENT JACK turns out to be, it WILL be CITIZEN KANE in comparison to HELLRAISER: INFERNO. Words cannot fathom the Maelstrom of Suck that is HELLRAISER 5…

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