‘Enter a world of suffering and madness’
The film stars Gorkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu, Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Sabahattin Yakut, Mehmet Fatih Dokgoz, and Muharrem Bayrak.
Five cops working the graveyard shift in the middle of nowhere are dispatched to investigate a disturbance. Isolated and without back-up, they find themselves confronting a labyrinthine ruin.
Pushing ever further into the depths of the lair, it becomes clear they have stumbled into the darkest pits of a terrible evil… a squalid and blood-soaked den of ritual led by The Father – the master of all their nightmares – who will plunge them ever deeper down the rabbit hole and into the very mouth of madness…
The story’s simple enough: a squad of Turkish police is having a rowdy night, which becomes even rowdier once they find themselves trapped in a remote country house occupied by malformed degenerates, flagitious torturers, and perverse reprobates. Their spiral into Hell is immediate, irredeemable, and most frightening of all, unexplained, leaving the viewer with an ultimate realization which loops back on itself and strangles the viewer on his own nausea.
The story may be simple, but director Can Evrenol accomplishes something quite complex within that simplicity: his vision is both mesmerisingly seductive and seedily repulsive; he, along with fellow writers Ogulcan Eren Akay, Ercin Sadikoglu, and Cem Özüduru have committed to film a perfect depiction of Hell.
Even the mildest of indiscretions will condemn you; seeing those indiscretions in others and not doing anything about it will condemn you; your own doubt or prelation will condemn you. Your inner sedition will betray you, and your spiral into self-destruction will physically twist your body into a sodden mass of twitching, barely recognisable flesh and gristle. You will have no eyes to see, but you will understand the horror of you own occupation, your own servitude, your own liquidation at the hands of – yourself.
All the performances here work, yet it’s Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Turkey’s own homunculus answer to Rondo Hatton, playing Baba/The Father cult leader, who stands out; he’s obviously mimicking Brando’s Kurtz, but he ultimately out-Brando’s Brando in his serene and debauched pollution. His smooth and detached impurity is chilling; the portrayal is one of the greats of modern horror.
Alp Korfali’s cinematography is rich, with luscious colours, so saturated at times as to bring on queasiness, which is apt considering the subject matter. He wisely surrounds everything in blackness, accentuating the separation and suffocation that’s closing in.
The make-up and visual effects by Derya Ergün and Baran Bayburt, respectively, are breathtaking and hypnotic. Ergün’s make-up is, believable and, at times, quite grotesque, and Bayburt’s visuals frequently enter into a hypnagogic realm which perfectly compliments Ergün’s nightmarish efforts.
Despite its overall competence and adept successes, the film does go a tad too long, especially for those with a weak stomach or who have a low tolerance for the extremes of subterranean, existential horror made physical. It’s safe to say that it’s a film only for those looking for something edgier than the typical teen horror flick and who are willing to dive into the deep end for something much stronger.
Can Evernol’s violent and intense short film Baskin caused something of a sensation at horror festivals several years ago, and a feature film version – for which the short was a tester, aimed at raising financing – was inevitable. Not that I’d been itching for a feature version of the short that I was distinctly underwhelmed by, it has to be said. But the full length Baskin is rather more interesting and trippy than the short version ever hinted at.
The film has a complex – bordering on incoherent – narrative that sees a bunch of dodgy coppers (I don’t think that they are supposed to be corrupt as such, but you wouldn’t want to have to deal with this lot)) turning up to a dilapidated house in response to a call for back-up, only to find it empty – or so it seems. But soon, the police stumble upon body parts, weird occult drawings on walls and a whole lot of badness, as they are captured by a strange cult with a yen for mutilation and eye removal.
However, that’s a simplification of a story that jumps back and forth through time and reality, a dizzying effect that might have been annoying if it wasn’t for the fact that the whole story seems to be about hallucination, insanity, inter-dimensional nightmares and general Satanic weirdness. Along the way are moments of startling gore and genuinely disturbing imagery, and the whole film is awash with a sense of unease almost from the start.
Evernol wears his influences on his sleeve – there are visual and musical nods to The Evil Dead, The Blair Witch Project, Cannibal Holocaust and others along the way – but none of these ‘tributes’ are especially distracting, and the film itself is not excessively derivative.
David Flint, HORRORPEDIA
” …if there’s one major criticism that can be levelled at the feature it’s that the material does feel steamrollered out a bit. That said, there’s no denying that Baskin the movie delivers some properly disturbing nightmarish horror for much of its running time, exhibiting a relentless desire to fill the screen with the stuff of nightmares.” John Llewellyn Probert, House of Mortal Cinema
“Baskin feels like a steroidal version of a vintage early 80’s Fulci film; not a rip-off or an homage by any stretch, but an heir to the same philosophies of filmmaking, the same desire to create an unrelenting, dreamscape of Grand Guignol and emotional response.” Chris Alexander, Shock Till You Drop
” …has all kinds of grisly fun with production design and hallucinatory shifts in reality. However, the screenplay is such a muddle that the audience is left groping through curtains of entrails and flayed skin trying to figure out what in the world – or perhaps the underworld – is going on.” Wendy Ide, The Observer
“Done badly, this would all be rather dull – and has been done badly, many times over elsewhere. However, good control of pace, atmosphere and mood, with a superb setting and visual flair throughout keep things engrossing; Baskin is extraordinary to look at, from its actors to its lighting to its framing. There isn’t a wasted second in terms of what’s being presented to the audience…” Keri O’Shea, The Reprobate
“The art house style of Baskin comes out with its stylised lighting and camera work, as well as it’s non-linear plot. The film often transitions into dream sequences that seem to be tinged with Freudian discussions. Speaking of Freud, the hellish denizens of Baskin are extremely sexual, often writhing over one another.” Christopher Stewart, UK Horror Scene
“Evrenol first made this as a short, and he’s stretched it to feature length by just adding more horrors when he might have done better to shore up the thin plot. The characters are vividly established, but then become disposable meat puppets – we get to see their insides, but find out so little about them it’s hard to be terrified by their fate or feel that they’re getting what they deserve.” Kim Newman, Empire
“Reality and fantasy blur together in a jumbled collection of good ideas, creepy-muscular-midget rantings, naked chicks wearing goat masks, and many other ritualistic nods that are weakly tied together by a blackened plot meant to shock and awe.” Matt Donato, We Got This Covered
” … it’s made up of some of the most brilliantly insane imagery of any movie this year, yet there’s not an ounce of character building and the plot itself gets lost in a sea of viscera. Outside of its nightmarish visuals, Baskin has almost nothing else to offer, which is a damn shame because the second half of the film is legitimately terrifying.” Ryan, The Missing Reel
“This is a movie with such a high incidental body count that its IMDb page credits actors for portraying corpses. If you are looking for a single word to sum up the film, try “gross.” If you’re looking for two: “super gross.” There are more prolifically disgusting horror movies in the distinguished canon of so-called torture p*rn, absolutely, but not many intend on being this bleak and grisly while being willfully mystifying.” Andy Crump, Paste magazine
“Hell itself, or what we assume is hell is dark, oppressing and unforgiving. There are elements of Hellraiser in what we see, as well as other movies like Silent Hill and for horror fans they will enjoy. Those looking for some light in the darkness will need to look elsewhere. Baskin is dark, it is bloody, and it is extreme. Exactly the type of horror that the genre needed to give it a kick up its backside.” Pissed Off Geek
Baskin was released in cinemas in Germany and Turkey on January 1, 2016, with an IFC Midnight release in US theaters and VOD March 25th.
British Blu-ray and DVD releases by Severin Films emerged on 26 March 2018.
Related: Turkish horror