Baskin | Starring: Gorkem Kasal, Muharrem Bayrak, Mehmet Fatih Dokgoz, Ergun Kuyucu, Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Sabahattin Yakut | Writers: Can Evrenol, Ercin Sadikoglu, Cem Ozuduru & Ogulcan Eren Akay | Director: Can Evrenol
Turkish horror never looked so good.
First drawing notice at TIFF 2015, “Baskin” is a phantasmagorical shocker helmed by Can Evrenol that follows a doomed police patrol within an unnerving, secluded frontier. Through a series of progressively demented visuals, the patrolmen come face-to-face with their greatest fears and discover there truly are things worse than death.
While “Baskin” doesn’t accomplish anything revelatory or innovative as a horror film, it’s steadily effective in creating a foreboding atmosphere that drains all color and exuberance from nearly every scene. There is but one scene when the protagonists are all in high spirits during their doomed journey to the remote village. As they slowly leave the lights of the city, it’s as though they’ve entered a twisted landscape that bleeds between reality and a realm where nightmares are made manifest.
Once the cops arrive to the abandoned building where the police car is located, what few suddenly raised to extreme heights. For a first time director, Can Evrenol shows considerable promise in establishing a steady level of tension. In employing a first-person perspective while investigating a decrepit police station covered in all manner of filth and creeping shadows, Evrenol thrusts viewers into the front row of the action whether they want to be there or not. It’s not long after that the cops split up (always an excellent decision) to search for their missing brethren. What they discover by themselves however are horrors that are oddly relatable to their own fears.
As the action unfolds and panic runs rampant, Arda occasionally shifts through the narrative, from the labyrinth underneath the building to his childhood apartment and the diner where he and Remzi (Ergun Kuyucu) have profound conversations about death and the hidden terrors that walk beside us every day of our lives. The ambiguity of these scenes does give one pause as to the nature of what’s unfolding in “Baskin”. The film itself is directed as though it were a surreal dream which only affirms its arcane, fiendish quality.
Save for Arda and his boss/guardian Remzi, none of his compatriots exhibit any redeeming qualities throughout “Baskin”. The squad’s hothead Yavuz (Muharrem Bayrak) is always ready to pick a fight with any person he feels is judging him. At the same there is Sabo (Sabahattin Yakut), a man who has yet another spontaneous meltdown (not worrisome at all) and draws concern from all his partners. Clearly, this is isn’t of the night shift. Although these men aren’t the most genial to audiences, no one deserves the gory torment that’s inflicted on them by a diminutive herald named Father (Mehmet Cerrahoglu). By the time most of the group is acquainted with Father, their fates are sealed. Nonetheless, Father feels duty-bound to make their passage towards death a learning experience. These “lessons” result in cringe-worthy scenes that feature acts of brutality and torture that would make Dario Argento proud.
“Baskin” is currently available for rent on IFC Films.
It’s difficult to interpret the byzantine themes of “Baskin” though its narrative was fairly straightforward and pedestrian in regards to horror films. Still, Can Evrenol has proven to be a capable director, easily constructing a solid thriller with a murky supernatural motif. It would be intriguing to see what he can create in the future with ample resources and a larger production.