Column: Cthulhu Eats the World: Beyond the Basement Door (2012)

Beyond the Basement Door (2012). Director: Jason Huls. Cast: Steve Christopher, Daniel Roebuck, Richard Pryor Jr.

Welcome back, Cthulhuheads. It’s been a while since I’ve covered a Mythos movie here, mainly because I’ve already covered most of them and sadly, they’re not making too many Lovecraftian flicks these days. But today, I’ve got an independent short film with nods to HPL aplenty, a recognizable face, and a familiar sounding name – but is it any good? Well, there’s only one way to find out. Are you brave enough to look at what’s in this basement? If you are, keep reading.

This movie only runs about twenty-five minutes, so it’s very short, but it doesn’t waste time and is never dull. Points for that. Also, the recognizable face I mentioned belongs to Daniel Roebuck, a “Hey, I know that guy” actor from such movies as The Fugitive, Final Destination, and the TV show, Lost. The famous name is ‘Richard Pryor Jr.’ Yes, that Richard Pryor was his father.

As for those Lovecraftian touches, the plot revolves around a character named ‘Alastair’ who is both a cancer researcher and someone suffering from cancer. When all research and conventional treatments lead to nothing but literal dead ends, he takes some very unorthodox steps to save his life. I won’t spoil what those are here, but they involve meeting strange people, a locked basement door with a weird sigil burned into it, and a promise that no matter what he hears down there, he’s not to open that door for three days. That is his end of the Faustian bargain he made to rid himself of the cancer.

So, can Alastair put aside his curiosity of what is going on (title plug) beyond the basement door? More importantly, can he keep his nosey neighbors from going down there and ruining everything, or suffering some weird and hideous fate, or both?

Basically that’s all there is to this movie. Beyond the Basement Door is a little slice of a film. It’s creepy, moody and mysterious, but if you’re looking for a complete story, or perhaps just some concrete answers to what’s going on in it, then you may be disappointed.

That’s not really an oversight of the writer/director Jason Huls. He says in an intro to the film that he wanted to give the viewers plenty of questions but not necessarily any solid answers. He has left that up to individuals who watch the movie to decide upon. Was that a brave decision in this age of spoon-fed plots or some sort of lazy incompetence? Well, like this film, I’ll ultimately leave that up to you to decide.

Final Verdict: Beyond the Basement Door is thoroughly Lovecraftian, even if it doesn’t namedrop the usual suspects of Mythos horror. It has the feel of a HPL story – that weird dread that can creep you out, even as it leaves you wondering what you just sat through. Sure, the film is a little rough around the edges and more interested in mood than connecting the dots of the story, but it is an enjoyable slice of Weird fiction on film. I recommend it to all Cthulhuheads and would like to see what the filmmaker does with a larger movie to play with.

About Brian M. Sammons

Brian M. Sammons has been critiquing all things horror, science fiction, dark, or just plain icky for over a decade. His reviews and columns can currently be found in the pages of these magazines: Cemetery Dance, Shock Totem and Dark Discoveries, and on these websites: Horror World, The Black Glove and now here. Not being satisfied at being a humble and handsome critic, Brian has penned a few tales himself. They have appeared in the magazines Bare Bone, Cthulhu Sex, Dark Animus, and Horror Carousel, and in the anthologies Arkham Tales, Cthulhu Unbound Vol. 2, Horrors Beyond, and Twisted Legends, among others. He has also written extensively for the Call of Cthulhu role playing game, in an attempt to corrupt as many new, young minds as possible. Despite all this, Brian is often described by his neighbours as "such a nice, quiet man", and he loves animals.

Brian M. SammonsColumn: Cthulhu Eats the World: Beyond the Basement Door (2012)