Turkish gore-fest Baskin drudges through familiar horror tropes while conveying a surreal, nightmarish tale of sadistic fate revealed through twisted imagery. The uniquely stylized and exceedingly bewildering story climbs from the gullies of tedium to the apex of shock, adhering to the trend of slowly progressing horror movies of late. And while the bend of the story arc momentarily rises, it stagnates before descending to a reasonably satisfying conclusion.
A group of five policemen working the night shift drink and jokingly insult each other at a small restaurant, then turn their aggression toward an unsuspecting wait staff. Their bullying is interrupted when their driver becomes ill and experiences a mental breakdown in the bathroom. While attending to the sick member of their crew, a call from dispatch summons the men to a strange town with a dark and mysterious history. En route to the location, they crash their police van into a pond off the side of the road, only to be rescued by some curious villagers who take the group to a nearby camp. The group discovers that they had all but reached their destination before the crash, and they make their way to a decrepit building. Unbeknownst to them, a congregation of horrors from the deepest recesses of human imagination waits in the depths of the building. The group battles a terrifying excess of gruesome individuals as they frantically attempt to piece together the sinister mystery behind the monstrous events unfolding before their eyes.
First-time director Can Evrenol provides an artistic take on slow-burn horror by playing with often-seen horror tropes and refusing to shy away from daring and exploitive scenes. Actors Muharrem Bayrak, Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Fatih Dokgöz, Gorkem Kasal and Ergun Kuyucu charm and chill with exemplary performances, showing sweeping ranges of talent. Cinematographer Alp Korfali employs excellent experimental camerawork with long shots and uneasy angles, going as far as framing shots upside down for a disorienting effect. Costume designer Sinan Saraçoglu and the effects department immaculately engineered a batch of grotesque villains reminiscent of the most diabolical of Hellraiser’s Cenobites. Splashes of colored lighting saturate scenes with rich mood, perfectly syncing aesthetic and underlying aspects. Assisting with the mood and intensity of scenes is the retro synth-inspired score with a distinctly Turkish flair. Among the best—certainly most enjoyable—scenes involves the drunken cops car dancing to the extraordinary track “Dere Boyu Kavaklar” by JF & Mert Canka. The baskin (Turkish for “police raid”) begins shortly after this scene and it’s the last time any scene is even remotely comfortable, wonderfully contrasting the ensuing mayhem.
A loose and confusing, but not unsolvable, plotline might leave a bad taste in the mouths of some viewers, as scenes at times are so abstract that interpretations seem endless, but enough of a story exists that a second view should make all things clear enough. Phantasmagorical dream sequences lead and interrupt the film, adding to the dreamlike—nightmarish, rather—qualities of the story. In the face of being exceptionally intense and violent, the film manages to get a bit stale near the climax—a remarkable feat considering the content surrounding that point in the film. The conclusion ends up redeeming the film’s weaknesses for the most part, but doesn’t offer anything too concrete in respect of true finality. Most particulars of the film work quite well, but the pacing and story structure fall short.