Parents' Guide to

Girl in the Basement

By Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media Reviewer

age 14+

Abusive dad locks teen daughter away for 20 years; rape.

Movie NR 2021 88 minutes
Girl in the Basement Poster Image

A Lot or a Little?

What you will—and won't—find in this movie.

Community Reviews

age 17+

Based on 4 parent reviews

age 14+

Very disturbing and heartbreaking, but inspiring.

The actors brought credibility and emotion to this film. It's incredible. I haven't felt so emotional watching a movie in a long time. Fortunately, the rape depictions in the film are about as "implied" as you can get in this media. There is nothing explicit here in that regard, but you definitely know what is happening and it is definitely disturbing. The violence is a little more explicit, including a rather disturbing scene involving a pregnant woman. But, I had to bring up one point regarding something that has been said: just to address one issue mentioned in a review above, the "motive" the father character gives to the daughter isn't his actual motive, nor is it credibly implied as such. That was simply a lie he gave to his daughter when she asked why he was doing it, for the purpose of breaking her resistance to him. I'll say the movie wasn't explicit about that, but from the context it is pretty clear. He is enjoying controlling and breaking her, and that lie about her obedience is part of it. It's a shame that was enough to bring a 1 star rating, because this film is far more than that.

This title has:

Educational value
age 18+

I don't suggest children to watch.

The movie was very disturbing. Especially after the father tries to make his family sick by putting carbon monoxide into their room while they were sleeping. He was also cruel and sexually abusive. Physically and mentally to his daughter.

Is It Any Good?

Our review:
Parents say (4):
Kids say (6):

This is an example of well-made, ripped-from-the-headlines Lifetime Channel fare, and inspired by the same shocking events in Austria on which the book and film Room were based. Though difficult to watch, performances by Scott and Nelson are certainly solid. Girl in the Basement is effective but does overindulge in slowing the plot, with blackouts for commercials at key moments, and, as if to counter our knowledge of how the real-life story ended, plenty of manufactured suspense telegraphed by edgy horror music.

After all the film puts us through -- 88 unrelenting minutes of abuse and villainy -- it would've been great to get at least a glimpse of Don's punishment. Don himself tells us that choices have consequences, and the movie shows us his choices. Providing an account of the consequences he faced would've been satisfying. The Austrian man who committed these atrocities was found guilty of rape, incest, murder, and enslavement and sentenced to life in prison in 2009. A 2010 documentary, Josef Fritzl: Story of a Monster, tells that story.

Movie Details

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