Back in the 70’s something quite horrible happened at Stephens Sanitarium and several patients and staff members were murdered. Now it has reopened under a new name and the only survivor of that terrible day has been admitted there as a new patient. Unfortunately upon his arrival people start acting strangely and even dying under mysterious circumstances. Does he have something to do with all the bizarre happenings or is there something more sinister at foot?
I always loved 1973’s Don’t Look in the Basement and think that it is an underrated classic that never quite got the love that it deserved. When I heard that a sequel was in the works I was a little skeptical until I heard that Tony Brownrigg (son of the late, great S.F. Brownrigg who directed the original film) was behind it (if you have the time look up the whole story behind the sequel as it is actually very touching) and I figured that he would do an excellent job. Happily I can report that he did just that and Don’t Look in the Basement 2 not only kicks all sorts of ass but is also a great companion to the original film. It has a lot of heart and it is obvious that a lot of hard work, dedication, and just genuine love went into the project on the part of everyone involved with the making of the movie.
I thought that it had a great premise that really held my attention. Things pick up over forty years after the original film ended (though we do get a nice flashback scene that takes place the day after the events of the original film at the beginning that I thought was a super nice touch) and we are introduced to the staff members and patients that are currently working at or committed to the hospital where the massacre took place so many years ago (though most of them don’t know it thanks to the fact that it is operating under a new name).
It isn’t long after we meet them that most of them begin to exhibit strange behavior, especially once Sam (the sole survivor from the original film) arrives. Doctors and patients alike begin to act in very bizarre ways and before you know it people start dying. I know that description is pretty vague but I don’t want to give anything away as I think you just have to see things for yourself. Let me just say that there are a handful of people that start acting like some of the patients and staff members from the original movie and some pretty disturbing things (including some cool death scenes) take place before the end credits start to roll. The last 30 minutes or so are pretty suspenseful and there are a couple of cool twists thrown into the mix to keep you guessing, all of which make for a very interesting movie that is a lot of fun to experience. I also liked the fact that things aren’t very easy to figure out (I’ll admit that I was totally wrong about a couple of things) and the big reveal at the end was perfect.
I loved the cast as well and thought that everyone involved did a phenomenal job. Andrew Sensenig gives one hell of a performance as the troubled new doctor William (who has a pretty depressing back story) and I found myself rooting for him on more than one occasion. I also really liked Frank Mosley as the shady and unstable Dr. Lance and thought that he turned in an awesome performance as well as you can’t help but dislike the guy due to his actions and overall personality.
Jim O’Rear and Scott Tepperman both shine as the orderlies Billy and Bishop and are both excellent at bringing some light comedy into the mix (I have had the pleasure of working with O’Rear in the past and can say that the man is just an all around class act in addition to being a very talented guy in general). My personal favorite performance though had to be Willie Minor’s as he plays the part of Sam (who was played by great Bill McGhee in the original). Minor nails it in every conceivable way and I can honestly say that his performance is nothing short of flawless. If I didn’t know any better I would have sworn that he WAS McGhee as he does that great of a job playing the character. All in all I dug all the characters and thought that the people playing them all did outstanding jobs as there wasn’t one bad performance to be found here anywhere.
I also really dug all the little nods to the original film too and thought that they were pretty cool. I wouldn’t say that we were beaten over the head with them and even though some are pretty major (especially toward the end) they worked as there was definitely a point to them. That doesn’t mean that you necessarily have to see the first one to understand this movie (though I would totally recommend that you did so) as they make sense even if you see this film without any prior knowledge of the previous film for the most part.
My favorite nod to the original had to be the inclusion of Camilla Carr who plays Emily, the bitchy head of the facility. Carr actually appeared in the original film as another character and I thought that it was pretty awesome to have her come back to be a part of the sequel (plus I dug her character even though she is a pretty horrible person for the most part). If you are a fan of the original film then you are definitely going to dig the sequel not just because it rocks, but because there are so many cool nods to the first movie.
I really enjoyed Don’t Look in the Basement 2. I thought that it was well-written and directed, had a fabulous cast, and I loved the ending. I will warn you that it is a little depressing at times (I got a little misty toward the end and especially at the short scene that followed) as you can’t help but feel sorry for some of the patients (hell, I thought the montage where we meet some of them for the first time was a little heartbreaking). Overall though it is a fun movie that will keep you on your toes and I have to think that S.F. Brownrigg is looking down with a smile on his face as I am sure that he is very proud and pleased of his son for making such a great follow up to his amazing original. Check it out as soon as you can, you will not be let down. Highly Recommended.