TIFF Journal: ‘Baskin’


Movie Rating:


The filmmaking output from Turkey isn’t normally described a wild, graphic or intense. Generally speaking, those folks fall onto the subtler side of the spectrum when it comes to their filmmaking. Or at least that was true until ‘Baskin’. First time director Can Evrenol has delivered one of the most devilishly nasty and disturbingly crafted horror flicks to come along in quite a while.

Granted, it takes perhaps a little too long for the madness to spring forth following a slow-burn setup, but given how wild things get once the movie begins its literal descent into Hell, that’s easy to forgive.

The film kicks off with a collection of cops sitting around a diner and shooting the shit. They’ve got some funny banter, yet also all seem to have a touch of corruption. Eventually, they’re called out to duty, but the key word here is “eventually.” Maybe it was due to budgetary limitations or maybe it was due to co-writer/director Evrenol’s inexperience with the feature-length format, but this thing drags on and doesn’t really have enough meat behind the chatter to justify all the lingering conversations. Thankfully, this passes and Evrenol has a very specific plan.

The cops are called to an abandoned police station that they very quickly realize is in fact a gate to Hell. As they descend through the building, the movie mirrors their descent into madness. Each character splinters off into a private nightmare and the graphic imagery not only gets worse, but more explicit.

Evrenol certainly can’t be accused of holding anything back once he kicks into high gear. Limbs fall, blood spills, perversion mounts, and the filmmaker reveals a demon that is a remarkable feat of facial casting. If you can make it through the buildup, there’s plenty in ‘Baskin’ that will make even the most hardened horror fans grip their stomachs in dread and revulsion.

At its best, Evrenol’s film recalls the work of the late, great Lucio Fulci (‘City of the Living Dead’, ‘The Beyond’). That’s not merely a reflection of the graphic goopy gore (nor is it due to the presence of a particularly harsh eye-gouging scene). The movie also shares Fulci’s sensuous use of color and full embracing of surrealism that stretches into a Lovecraftian sense of the uncanny. ‘Baskin’ is a movie that you have to give yourself over to, and if you commit you’ll be transported to another place. While most won’t be pleased to find themselves in that place, horror fans will be delighted by the gift of a new and naughty cinematic nightmare.

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