Director – Can Evrenol
Cast – Gorkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu, Muharrem Bayrak, Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Fatih Dokgöz, Sabahattin Yakut, Berat Efe Parlar, Sevket Suha Tezel
Release Year – 2016
Reviewed by John of the Dead
A friend of mine told me I had to check out this crazy Turkish horror film that is currently trending on streaming sites (viewed via Netflix). This is the debut full-length film from director Can Evrenol as he expands on his short film of the same name. Baskin is not a film for those seeking an experience that is easy to watch. With a baroque story complimented by full-frontal violence and sexual depravity, this is one of the genre’s crazier films of 2016.
It’s a slow night when a squad of unsuspecting cops takes a call for assistance from another unit. When they arrive at the destination, an abandoned building, they enter a trapdoor to Hell where their sins are manifested into inescapable terror.
The story, written by a slew of four writers (including Evrenol), kicks off with introductions of the officers and how they each fit into the unit. There is a wise elder, a young cadet, a shithead who acts hard but is internally weak, and two others. They get the call for support at the 21-minute mark but they do not arrive at the scene for another 19 minutes of runtime. Why? Dreams and flashbacks involving several characters consistently intertwine with the present day story. Because of this, the story doesn’t move as fast as it could. This is not necessarily a bad thing, although some may be annoyed at first given these scenes take a while to make sense. The squad also suffers a vehicle crash, which is where we get our first hint that something is very wrong with the call they received. The area they are headed to is rural and comes with much superstition. There are tall-tales about shrines and supernatural forces at play. Nonetheless, they finally reach the home at the 40-minute mark and that is where the horror begins to seep through.
I don’t know if it is because this is a foreign horror film from a country who’s horror I am not familiar with, but I feel that for the majority of the flick you really won’t know what the hell (pun intended) is going on. It will somewhat make sense in the end, but I feel it is hard to judge a film without being familiar with the country of origin’s culture and norms.
So, how is the horror? I loved it. From the moment they arrive at the large decrepit abandoned home you know they are in way over their heads. Chains with lingering remnants of human flesh are hanging from the ceiling. The looks on the cops’ faces are of shock and bewilderment. Whatever happened to their predecessors surely did not end well for them. 50 minutes in is where we finally get a good tangible look at the horror our protagonists will be facing. From then on out it really is all hell broken loose. The cops are bombarded by what seem to be cult followers who are still eating the previous officers and having sex amongst their entrails. Their quest for survival leaves them on the run in a home with twisting corridors and danger lurking around every corner. Things take the ultimate turn for the worst when Baba, aka “The Father” arrives. I will leave it at that so that I don’t add any more spoilers than I already have. Let’s just say the ante is upped. You’ll thank me for the additional shock value as a result of not knowing what to expect.
Director Can Evrenol does a superb job of bringing this story to life and then shoving it in your face. He shies away from nothing and leaves no stone unturned. I enjoyed the home used as the trapdoor to hell and the atmosphere that came within it. The dark shadows and dusty air left a constant feeling of dread. His use of live-action effects was also very pleasing and there is plenty of gore to be shown. Full-frontal cinematography gives us front row seats to some shocking scenes that will force some to look away. Evrenol’s horror is the film’s biggest selling point, but that doesn’t force other elements, like acting, to take a backseat. The casting of Mehmet Cerrahoglu, who has a rare skin condition, was a genius choice that made the film. His demeanor and mannerisms entrance the viewer and bring terror to his victims. An original musical score heavy in electronic tones provides a haunting chill that reigns until the bitter, blood-soaked climax. With a hell of a debut film I can see Can Evrenol succeeding in future efforts as he definitely aimed to hit hard with this one.
Overall, Baskin is one of the crazier horror films of 2016. It is heavy in gore, depravity, and is sure to offend many while pleasing those who enjoy such things.