In 1972, the patients and doctors at Stephens Sanitarium were brutally murdered. Over forty years later, the only known survivor returns only to find the ghosts of the past have not been resting in peace.
Older genre fans may remember director S.F. Brownrigg’s delightfully sleazy 1973 horror film, Don't Look In The Basement(A.K.A. The Forgotten), which tells the tale of an innocent young nurse who takes a job at a Sanitarium for the mentally disturbed run by a strange doctor. When the doc. is hacked up with an axe by one of the patients, the nurse is swept up in a murderous game of cat and mouse. Despite being made with a low budget, the film is surprisingly good with some top acting, and i urge you to check it out!
And now, almost 43 years later, director Tony Brownrigg(S.F. Brownrigg’s son) takes on the sequel as his second feature film(his first was 2008’s comedy/horror Red Victoria). Don't Look In The Basement 2(DLITB2 from now on) is set 40 years after the events of its predecessor. The film follows New York psychiatric doctor Dr. Matthews (veteran actor Andrew Sensenig), who takes a job at Green Park Clinic, at a small town in Texas.
Taking orders from his boss, the dragon like Emily(Camilla Carr), he is charged with working withe the facility’s newest and most notorious patient, the child-like 74 year old Sam (Willie Minor, who replaced the late Bill McGhee). Unfortunately for Dr. Matthews, he isn’t aware that Green Park Clinic sits on the very plot of land where the notorious Stephens Sanitarium(from the first film) once stood, and the return of Sam has triggered something dark to awake and trigger a series of events that wont stay buried!
Before i go onto the positives and negatives of DLITB2, we have to remember that this is an independent horror film, and must judge it as such. It is not going to be perfect by any means, but i feel that things must be looked at with the budgetary and other restraints in mind.
First of all, despite the restraints mentioned, this film looks fantastic, and i must tip my cap to the cinematographer and director for this. The brilliantly shot, professional looking camera work is an amazing contrast to its grainy 16mm filmed predecessor.
The writing and directing in the film are both solid, and the story twists and turns and did manage to keep me on my toes. The characters are believable(although not as grounded as I would have liked) and the dialogue is mostly believable.
Also, just like the first film, the acting is(mainly) impressive. Sensenig’s portrayal of the genuinely likeable average Joe is great, as is Arianne Martin’s(credited as Arianne Margot) lovely and caring Dr. Lucy Mills. The amount of sympathy and care she show the childlike Sam really shows through. The final lead role is Frank Mosley’s cruel and jealous Dr. White, and while his performance can border on cheesy from time to time, he does a good job for the most part.
Of the supporting cast, Jim O'Rear, and Scott Tepperman provide the comic relief as with their roles as the clinics
orderlies. And special mentions must go to the actors playing the mentally ill patients, they must have done a lot of research as my other half took it upon herself to google the actors to see if they were real mental patients(although, bear in mind she isn't the sharpest tool in the box!)
Marcus Koch handles the special effects the film, and while not a gore heavy film, we do get a few good splashes of the red stuff.
The films flaws are minor ones. The main one is the character of Sam. He was just sort of there, and could have done a lot more. I also think that they had him “grow up” a bit from the first film, but for me anyway, it added a sense of menace that this monster of a man had the brain of a child.
If i can suggest one thing, it is that i would make time to watch both Don’t Look In The Basement films together as a double bill, as this fills in the back story as well as helps you to appreciate the sequel too. If you’re not into classic horror, while not as good, it can be viewed in isolation, mainly thanks to its opening sequence which brilliantly recreated part of the first films ending.
Don’t Look In The Basement 2 has won a stack of awards on the festival and convention circuit, and in my opinion it deserves the lot. This is a rare sequel that doesn’t just try and cash in on its predecessor but actually builds on the story and adds to the mythology.