‘Girl in the Basement’ tells the harrowing tale of Sara (Stefanie Scott), a young girl who is imprisoned by her father (Judd Nelson) in their basement on her 18th birthday. The father, Don, keeps her locked up for the next 20 years, regularly raping and assaulting her, and eventually siring multiple children with her.
The movie is inspired by the real-life case of Elisabeth Fritzl who was kept imprisoned by her father from 1984 to 2008. Apart from providing valuable material for crime and thriller genre cinema, according to first-time director Elisabeth Rohm movies like ‘Girl in the Basement’ work to raise awareness about the dark elements of our society that are hiding in plain sight.
If you would like to explore more movies like this, we’ve got you covered. Here are 5 movies that give us a peek into the dark side of human relationships. You can watch most of these movies similar to ‘Girl in the Basement’ on Netflix, Hulu, or Amazon Prime.
5. Frailty (2001)
Bill Paxton directs and stars alongside Matthew McConaughey in the 2001 drama thriller ‘Frailty’. Fenton Meiks (McConaughey) walks into the FBI office and launches into the story of his childhood. Of how his religious fanatic father (Paxton) received visions from god commanding him to kill certain people who were “demons”. As the FBI agent Wesley Doyle (Powers Boothe) listens with mounting disbelief, Fenton tells him how as children, he and his brother Adam helped their father kill and bury countless people. The film’s opening and setup are perfect to explore how darkness and psychosis can be transferred from one generation to another. Social commentary aside, the film is a masterful slow-burn thriller that will have you sitting on the edge of your seat till the very end.
4. Death Saved My Life (2021)
‘Death Saved My Life’ is a 2021 Lifetime movie directed by Seth Jarrett and starring Meagan Good as the lead. Loosely based on the real-life story of Noela Rukundo, the movie is about Jade (Good) who realizes that her abusive husband is trying to kill her when she finds out that he’s hired a hitman. The only way she can escape from him? Make him believe that the hitman has been successful. This act of “pseudocide”, or staging one’s own death, provides a framework for the movie to explore how even when everything looks good on the surface, what happens behind closed doors can be sinister.
3. Black Snake Moan (2006)
Some much-needed comedic relief in this list comes from the 2006 black comedy drama ‘Black Snake Moan’. Starring Christina Ricci and Samuel L. Jackson in one of his best performances, this movie studies the effects of childhood abuse on Rae (Ricci) even as Lazarus (Jackson) tries to reform her by, amongst other things, keeping her chained to the radiator. Despite being darkly psychological in subject matter, the catchy southern blues soundtrack and Jackson’s distinctive acting style keep the movie relatively light and make it a worthy watch for multiple reasons.
2. Girl in the Box (2016)
‘Girl in the Box’ is a psychological drama about 20-year-old Colleen Stan (Addison Timlin) who is kidnapped and imprisoned in a coffin-sized box for seven years and faces physical and sexual abuse from her kidnappers whenever she is let out. Apart from being based on a true story, the film is told through the perspective of one of the kidnappers, making it all the more disturbing. You have been warned!
1. Changeling (2008)
Released in 2008 and based in 1928, ‘Changeling’ stars Angelina Jolie as the real-life Christine Collins on whom the film is based. Directed and scored by Hollywood veteran Clint Eastwood, this film tells the distressing story of a mother (Jolie) who, after her son goes missing, is forced to accept another child that the authorities insist is her son. Screenwriter Joseph Michael Straczynski spent years researching and writing the script and the result is a movie in which almost every scene is based on real-life occurrences that he found in newspapers and legal documents from that period. Most of the characters are also based on real people and the movie received widespread critical acclaim, earning Jolie her first Best Actress nomination for an Academy Award.
Read More: Girl in the Basement: Everything We Know