September 07, 2015

In the Basement (2014)

In the Basement (2014) - Movie Review
Directed by: Ulrich Seidl
Country: Austria

Movie Review: Ulrich Seidl’s new documentary, “In the Basement”, is mordantly funny, creepily outrageous, and boldly raw. The film gathers a set of suburban Austrian people, who expose themselves by allowing us to peek on what’s going on in their basements. Clearly, the whole is weaker than the sum of the parts, however, my voyeuristic side was awakened by the intimate little secrets it keeps unveiling, even if a couple of unnecessary scenes are there only with the purpose of shocking the viewers. The idea and concept have come from Seidl and the habitual creative collaborator, Veronika Franz, who just co-directed the absorbing horror-drama “Goodnight Mommy”. The creators have selected curious individuals whose tastes extend from the cult of Nazism to sadomasochism, going into guns and shooting, vanity and prepotency, baby-addiction and solitude. For a little more detail about the visited basements, here’s a summary: Fritz, a former soldier who teaches at his illegal home-keeping shooting club and has a knack for singing opera, is the first to be introduced; a married woman in her late fifties still dreams about having babies, using baby dolls that she conceals in boxes; another man follows a family predisposition to drink from dusk till dawn while maintains the basement shining with cleanness; Hitler’s admirer and Gestapo’s target, Josef Ochs, who also plays horn in a band, invites us to his Nazi retreat where he often drinks with his friends; a middle-aged couple don’t talk, just stare intrepidly at the camera while the jukebox plays silly old songs; a security guard reveals to be a masochist and his wife, the master, shows a few techniques used in their well-equipped cellar; a prostitute-lover man, tiny in length, boasts about his super sexual potency; and a woman who had stabbed his abusive husband still likes being violently dominated by men. Functioning more as an exposition rather than an examination of human eccentricities, “In the Basement”, as I expected, is presented through medium-long shots with geometrical compositions and no music.

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