As far as horror cinema goes, Turkey isn’t a country known for many critically-acclaimed horror movies. Or any sort of horror movies, for that matter. Outside of the obscure 2005 D@bbe, the list is pretty small. So when Can Evrenol’s Baskin – adapted from his own short film – made some waves several years at the Toronto International Film Festival, horror fans took notice. Critics were also impressed with the nightmarish and gore-drenched vision. Sadly, the Turkish export never saw much of a release over seas. Over the last several years, however, Baskin has slowly amassed a deserving cult-following.
Five police officers respond to a call for backup from a remote village on the outskirts of their jurisdiction. When they arrive they find an empty squad car sitting outside an abandoned building – an old police station. Inside they find only one police officer in what looks like a trance. When the descend into the bowels of the building, they find themselves lost in a nightmarish Hell where they’ll be forced to answer for their sins.
Baskin Effectively Mixes a Haunting Atmosphere with a Uniquely Nightmarish Vision of Hell
From its opening scene, Baskin immediately recalls the 1970s Giallo of directors like Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento. Writer and director Can Evrenol mixes neon-drenched lighting, sexual undertones, and plenty of ambiguity to set up an uncomfortable atmosphere. The scene sets the tone for everything that follows. Even when Evrenol’s crude police officers are bantering around a restaurant table, there’s a feeling of unease hanging over the movie. In fact, Evrenol immediately impresses with his ability maintain a consistent grasp over his debut’s tone. Simply put, Baskin feels consistently dangerous and uneasy – a feeling that slow burns to a grotesque final act.
Writer and director Can Evrenol mixes neon-drenched lighting, sexual undertones, and plenty of ambiguity to set up an uncomfortable atmosphere.
And Baskin distinguishes itself from Hollywood PG-13 horror once its police officers arrive at an abandoned building in the isolated Inceagac. If the movie’s official synopsis promises a descent into Hell, Evrenol delivers with some of the most demented visuals in recent memory. That is, twisted oddities, gore-soaked images, and all manner of unexpected horrors turn up on the screen the further down the rabbit-hole the characters descend. If nothing else, Baskin demonstrates what can be accomplished with a demented imagination. In addition to its nightmarish atmosphere, Evrenol commits a representation of Hell to the screen that truly feels like an underworld realm.
Baskin Makes Up For a Lack of a Coherent Story With Relentless Surrealist Horror
Anyone expecting narrative coherence will walk away from Baskin feeling frustrated. Along with director Evrenol, three other writers contributed to the fantasy-horror’s screenplay. Maybe these three additional writers brainstormed what the vision of Hell should entail here. Regardless Baskin largely consists of nightmarish sequences stitched together by the thinnest of premises. And once the officers arrive in Inceagac the plotting becomes non-existent. Instead, Evrenol concerns himself with crafting a surrealist experience that very accurately recalls the worst of possible nightmares. Once the unique first-time actor Mehmet Cerrahoglu, playing The Father, shows up, Baskin is all about disturbing the audience – not recounting a story.
Regardless Baskin largely consists of nightmarish sequences stitched together by the thinnest of premises.
In spite of its lack of a coherent story, Baskin presents interesting ideas that may resonate for viewers who can withstand the gore. Though the early misogynistic, homophobic banter feels unnecessarily long and pointless it serves a later cathartic. Specifically, these aren’t characters with whom we’re intended to sympathize. Throughout the movie, the police officers marginalize characters presented as ‘Others’. Later in the bowels of the abandoned building, faceless and anonymous monstrosities – deformed ‘Others’ – inflict suffering on these same characters. By the final scene, Baskin implies that its police officers have descended into Hell.
Baskin Isn’t For the Squeamish, But Should Satisfy More Hardcore Horror Fans
Not for the faint of heart, Baskin stands as a truly nightmarish viewing experience. While there’s not much in the way of any narrative coherence, that’s to be expected for a surrealist horror movie. First-time director Evrenol seems more interested in immersing audiences into a hellish world defined by a relentless creepy atmosphere and disturbing visuals. Those viewers looking for story or motive will be frustrated. Moreover, viewers who may be a bit shy when it comes to gore will undoubtedly be turned off by the final act. But more hardcore horror fans will delight with what’s a relentless haunting and disturbing hidden gem.