Girl in the Basement

Rated: Not Rated

        Is it just me, or are horror flicks all the rage these days? They used to be nothing but a Halloween staple, but now filmmakers are releasing all sorts of them all year long. Don’t get me wrong, I’m not complaining. As I’ve said before, I’m always up for a good horror flick!
        I think what draws people to the horror genre (besides the enjoyment of being scared of course), is that there are so many different types of horrors. The category is truly wide open. There are horrors for kids; horrors with monsters, ghosts and ghouls; horrors that feature groups of people and psychopathic killers; or even horrors that are simply a single person’s nightmare. The recent short film
Girl in the Basement by Kt Baldassaro, Jared Skolnick, and Skolnick Films is the latter of these, but that certainly doesn’t mean it’s lacking in the horror department whatsoever.
        The synopsis for the film, provided to me by Jared, goes like this: “A young woman is kidnapped by a serial killer. Before he can finish her, he accidentally dies, leaving her trapped in his basement.” Upon first reading this I thought of the
Saw films. The Saw films all feature at least one person who is in some way trapped by a serial killer and must fight through some gory trials and tribulations to survive. Granted, in the Saw films the kidnapper isn’t dead, (or is he?), but he’s usually at some remote location and barely interacting with his victims.
        You’d think, since I made the loose mental connection between
Girl in the Basement and the Saw films, that I would’ve kept the horrors of Saw in the back of my mind as I watched Girl in the Basement. Unfortunately though, I didn’t. I wasn’t quite expecting everything to be roses and sunshine, but the degree of sheer terror contained within Girl in the Basement came as a bit of a shock. Considering that I’ve grown up a horror fan that’s no small feat!
        As you’d imagine, the film was shot almost entirely in a basement. The room itself lends its own elements of fright, since there are no windows, no doors and no bulkhead. The only access and exit point to the room is a tiny trap door, which leads to the kitchen above. The whole thing, while rather large, open and spacious has a very claustrophobic feel to it. I asked filmmaker Kt Baldassaro what it was like filming in such a dispiriting location. Here’s what she told me, “The cold! Oh my lord, the basement was sooo cold when we were shooting. A lot of the scenes where I'm dry heaving are pretty real, I'm such a baby about the cold, and then I wrote into the script that [the main character, whom I played] uses her shirt as a tool. Ugh!”
        But the cold isn’t the only trepidation the main character Susan faces in the film. She also faces hunger, pain, infection and insanity, to name a few.  And while there are plenty of visual elements included to get people gasping, the majority of the film’s terrors, for both the audience and the character, are psychological. 
Girl in the Basement is a film that will have you thinking “What would I do in that situation?” and while it can be easy to play “armchair quarterback,” the reality isn’t so simple. Does Susan make the best choices she can faced with an intensely difficult situation? Perhaps, but there are a million directions the film could’ve gone in that would warrant entirely different outcomes, and thusly would change the impact of the film itself. I asked Kt and Jared if there was anything in particular they wanted audiences to come away with after watching the film. Jared’s answer was simple, “I strongly believe that what gets taken from a film is something the audience should come to themselves.” When I first heard that answer I was a little disappointed. It felt like Jared was taking the easy way out. But upon further reflection I must say that I agree with him. While there are deeper meanings hidden in the folds of the film, Girl in the Basement is one that, if given enough thought, we can all relate to. We’ve all been in situations that felt like we were trapped in a basement with no hopes of escape as we’re just trying to survive. We’ve all been the girl in the basement.  Our own experiences may not be quite so gory as this film, but they are certainly no less painful.

Girl in the Basement was written by Kt Baldassaro, was codirected by  Kt Baldassaro and Jared Skolnick and stars Robert Savage and Kt Baldassaro. The film is currently entered into many women’s and horror film festivals. For more information about the film, Kt Baldassaro and Jared Skolnick go to:

  • Girl in the Basement on IMDB