Girl in the Basement (2021 Lifetime)
Synopsis (via Lifetime)
Inspired by actual events, Girl in the Basement is the horrific story of Sara (Stefanie Scott), a vibrant teen girl who was looking forward to her 18th birthday so she could move away from her controlling father, Don (Judd Nelson).
*** TRIGGER WARNING: Rape, Sexual Abuse, Incest
The movie begins with Don rushing someone to the hospital.
Next, we see the family eating at a table. Don and his wife Irene are raising two daughters Amy and Sara. Sara is rebellious and sneaks out to dance at a bonfire with her motorcycle-riding boyfriend. His name is Christopher, and he also plays the guitar. He sings Sara a song and tells her that he loves her. It is sweet,
When Sara comes home the next morning, Don is pissed and screams at his daughter. He says as long as she lives in his house, she will follow his rules. Sara makes plans with Amy and Irene to move out on her own. Don overhears the conversation and preps his bomb shelter in the basement. He plans to lock his daughter inside so she can’t leave him.
While Irene is out shopping, Don asks Sara to help him moves stuff in the basement. Then he locks her in and soundproofs the room. She is literally trapped in a bomb shelter and has no way out. The bin is full of clothing. We get a day counter. This is Day 1 of many, many, more to come.
Sara is living like a caged animal. The keypad has three tries before shutting down the air circulation. Sara uses pots to piss in and takes every opportunity to scream for help and fight to be freed. Don tells her that she will earn her privileges and is being punished for her behavior. Then he rapes his own fucking daughter. What the hell. (This is a true story!?)
Irene thinks her daughter has run away and calls the police. Don and Irene talk with the police, who think Sara is a runaway, and there isn’t much they can do because she is eighteen.
Day 7- Sara is bruised and battered. She thinks of Christopher to get herself through the trauma she is experiencing. Ironically, Christopher shows up to question Don about where Sara is. Don lies and says she ran off with another man. Then he goes downstairs, forces Sara to put on a red dress, gives her a birthday cake, and rapes her again. (This is tough to watch.) The next time he comes down, she is ready and attacks him with a makeshift weapon. (A tuna lid attached to some wood.)
Day 356- Sara is pregnant with her father’s child/her sister. She delivers her baby with no medical assistance or proper medical hygiene. She is using a nursing book to prepare for the baby.
Seven years later, Sara is raising her daughter and a son; she is also pregnant. They are all locked in the basement together and only have one another.
Christopher still is looking for Sara and shares with Amy the lies he heard from Don. Amy admits that her father has been abusive with her mother and thinks that Don did something to her sister. Then she confronts Don and accuses him of doing something. Irene wants to go to a private investigator, which sets Don off. They argue, and Don drops his basement keys. Amy picks them up and snoops around the basement, only to be caught by an aggressive Don.
Sara has her third baby and convinces Don to leave the baby on the doorstep with a note from her asking to take care of her newborn baby. Don leaves the baby for Irene to find. He finds a smaller note Sara left asking her mom to call the police because she is trapped in the basement.
14 years. The children, Marie and Michael, are growing up. They have social anxiety from being locked in a basement bunker their whole lives. They do not understand how horrible the situation they are in really is. They notice a leak in the ceiling and start digging their way out with a spoon. Sara spends all night digging; she is also pregnant again. The hole leads to the front yard, and she flashes a light signaling a neighbor for help. When the neighbor goes to the front door and tells Don, he goes downstairs and beats his pregnant daughter, causing her to miscarry. (This man is pure evil.)
18 Years in captivity, Don fills Sara in about her other son living just above them named Thomas. He uses Thomas to turn Marie and Michael against their mother. They demand to be let out, and Sara can’t take it. She freaks out and collapses on the floor, crying. She thinks of her boyfriend Christopher and the love he showed her. Sara tells her children the truth about Don. The kids understandably are overwhelmed. Michael tried to beat up Don the next time he comes down. That only makes him angrier.
Above ground, Don isn’t doing so great either. He constantly fights with his wife, is fired from his job, and his house is in foreclosure. He is tired of taking care of Sarah and the kids and funnels carbon monoxide into the basement air vents with a hose while they sleep. Thomas catches Don in the garage and wonders what his grandfather is doing. Don has a change of heart and doesn’t kill them.
Marie has breathing problems and has an asthma attack so bad that she needs medical attention. Sara begs Don to take them to the hospital, and she even calls him “Dad.” He rushes them to the ER. It is the same scene we saw at the start of the film. Doctors fight to save Marie. Elisabeth Röhm plays a concerned doctor and asks about Marie’s medical history. Sara asks to go to the bathroom, and Don refuses to let her go. She spills water on Don’s paperwork and makes her way to get help while he gets a new form. Sara tells the doctor everything. Don is arrested and put away for life.
Irene is horrified to learn the truth about what happened to her daughter at her husband’s hand in her own house. The family all move in together. Motorcycle Christopher shows up and takes Sara out for a picnic. They talk about their teenage plans for the future, and Christpher apologizes for not trying harder to find Sara. Then they go for a ride together.
RAINN’s National Sexual Assault Hotline is available 24/7 with free, confidential support at 800-656-HOPE (4673) or http://online.rainn.org.
Minority Report: Cop, hospital cop,
Elisabeth Röhm directorial debut! Good for her. This movie was a lot to tackle and I thought she did a nice job with such difficult subject matter.
Read more about the true story here of Elisabeth Fritzl’s horrific 24 years in captivity here.
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