Directed By Can Evrenol.
Starring Gorkem Kasal, Muharrem Bayrak, Mehmet Akif Budak, Fadik Bülbül, Mehmet Cerrahoglu and Serhat Mustafa Kiliç.
‘A squad of unsuspecting cops goes through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building.’
Baskin is exactly the type of movie horror fans have been waiting for. It’s also the type of movie that will divide as many people with its repulsiveness as it will seduce midnight movie fans clamouring for carnage. It’s essentially a nightmare captured on film; a fever dream that glides and shifts into the deepest recesses of your being before bludgeoning you with sadistic, hyper sexual violence as it pulls you into the pits of Hell. This is horror at its most unapologetic, bizarre and disgusting – and it’s just glorious.
Turkey isn’t renowned for its horror films, but if Baskin is anything to go by that could change in the near future. Hopefully this will spearhead a renaissance in their horror cinema, but if it doesn’t it’ll at least propel its first time director Can Evrenol into the black hearts of genre fans. He’s one of us, and with his debut feature – based on his short film of the same name – he has channelled the Italian horror of yesteryear and blended it with the nightmarish savagery of Clive Barker, along with a sprinkling of pitch black humour reminiscent of Goodfellas. However, the myriad of influences has been applied in a way that’s wholly original, and Baskin – whether it becomes loved or hated – will certainly be remembered as the twisted offspring of a creative, demented mind.
The film tells the tale of a squadron of macho police officers whose tales of sexual debauchery and soccer are interrupted by a distress call from another unit. While en route to help their comrades, they run over what they think might be a man and crash into a watery ditch. However, there is no body to be found, and the only sign of life comes in the form of frogs – a prophecy of doom in some cultures. Without a vehicle, they set off on foot until they come across an abandoned building; on the outside it appears to be deserted, but when they enter they find themselves in an inescapable orgy of ritualistic violence and mayhem, led by the enigmatically evil “Father.’’
On a purely visceral level, Baskin is a triumph. Once the cops enter the building, logic is an afterthought behind disturbing imagery and surreal sequences. To harken back to a previous point, it akin to a nightmare: while it isn’t always coherent narratively, the sheer power of what’s taking place on-screen packs a punch and gets under your skin, and its ambiguity and confusion works to its advantage. It’s a film more concerned with pummelling the viewer more than anything, but it does it so effectively and with such style that you can’t help but revel in it.
The downside of Baskin is that it is all style and little substance; the story is bare, the characters all have elusive backstories that are touched on but never fully explained and its descends into set-pieces over structured storytelling. That’s only a criticism if you want answers; some of the most effective horror works because it lingers on the mind afterwards and keeps you questioning what you just saw. That being said, it excels as an experience if you’re willing to leave logic at the door and embrace its onslaught, unleashed by a very talented filmmaker. Every frame in this movie boasts the confidence of a director who knows what he’s doing, and the results are mesmerising madness.
Narratively, Baskin is far from perfect. But modern horror is rarely this mesmerising, and it’s one of the best genre offerings to come along in quite some time. It’s strange, savage and genuinely creepy; this is a hellish fever dream captured on film, and truly unmissable. This is the horror movie fans of the genre wish would happen more often, and Can Evrenol is the future.
Flickering Myth Rating – Film: ★ ★ ★ ★/ Movie: ★ ★ ★ ★ ★