I'm not the first to point out there's a plethora of movies that begin with the warning/advice "Don't". Like the recently reviewed Don't Answer the Phone, a lot of these titles were even changed after production, for some reason, to include the word "don't". Like this movie was originally called The Forgotten, which makes more sense than Don't Look in the Basement. In fact the director of this movie also directed a film called "Don't Open the Door"! And he worked briefly with Larry Buchanan. To give you an idea of what we're dealing with.
I think in a way it's kinda cool now that I think about it. It's almost like creating a horror movie series that's not related, like related through theme only. Plenty of horror sequels took the original idea and made a huge mess of it, keeping no plotlines or characters or anything from the first. So why not take advantage of that? Why not have a horror film franchise that only connection is that people are dying and they all start with the word Don't? It's like, they could be about anything; be it supernatural, spree killers, demented pyschos - as long as it says Don't and there's a body count. Hell, even throw one in there where it's a psychological mystery and there's only like 1 kill, as long as it still kinda fits the criteria. It's the art of making your movie into a legacy, which since I'm talking this much about it, it kinda did! It kinda succeeded.
If you were unaware and the internet hadn't come along, might you not assume that Don't Answer the Phone, Don't Look in the Basement, Don't Open the Door, Don't Go Near the Park, Don't Go in the House, Don't Look Now, Don't Go in the Woods....etc....are all related? And I'm only including ones made in the 70's and one from 1981. It's actually a neat idea, and it's sort of even implemented today by companies like The Asylum who make movies with titles close to the ones they're ripping off - Transformers becoming Transmorphers, etc.
This is your average "insane asylum" flick wherein a new nurse comes to the asylum. She was brought there by the recently deceased Doctor Stephens, and apparently she knows absolutely nothing about the asylum itself. The asylum has it's array of wacky weirdos: the old lady who can't speak, the ex-judge who still thinks he's a judge, the giddy guy who plays jokes on everyone, the sex-starved nympho, the guy who thinks he's a sergeant during the war, the guy who has the mind of a child, and probably others I'm forgetting. Surprisingly, most of the actors in this actually had other movies they were in and despite some over-acting in this movie, it works out ok.
The thing about this movie for me though, was even approaching it with an open mind and trying to make the best of it, it just wasn't very entertaining. It's a very dry movie. There is no real depth, explanations, or even scares. There is a handful of people die in it (and two in the pre-credit sequence!) but the kills are so spaced out through the 90 minute run time that when the kills aren't happening it's all a lot of filler, dialogue, and relatively needless repetition. It's like they seemed to think that just by showing us some people acting a little bit crazy we'd settle at that being scary and not need anything else.
Oh, and obviously, need I even mention that I don't think there even was a basement in the movie? Okay, I think there might have been one on second thought. I do think there was ONE basement scene. But nothing was in the basement, no kills happened there, and there was ultimately no reason to not "look in the basement". It comes down to a easily forgettable, easy to pass over, very distraction-prone film that I'm only going to give 1.5 stars to.