Turkey isn’t particularly well known for its horror movie output, until now: Baskin is a showcase of the potential that the country has to offer – but it has a way to go before becoming a serious contender on the world horror stage.
Five policemen answer a distress call from a nearby town which has a reputation for being the focus of unsettling occurrences. After crashing their van and having to walk the rest of the way, they arrive at their destination – a derelict police station. From the moment they set foot in the building, things continue to head in a downward direction as the men are left at the mercy of a mysterious figure known as ‘The Father’ and his cult members.
Revealed first to audiences at the 2015 Toronto International Film Festival, Baskin made headlines for its excessive gore. While the blood levels may be high, the film is hindered by its lack of genuine characterization and minimal plot, the latter of which almost completely evaporates when the team arrives at the ghost town and the film becomes just another extended torture sequence.
One major thing Baskin has going for it, though – it certainly has artistic flair. Debuting director Can Evrenol undoubtedly has an eye for making the mundane interesting. Even the most harmless of imagery, say pieces of meat sizzling on a BBQ, is represented as a more menacing and ominous shot than it deserves to be. Deliberately nightmarish visuals are an obvious homage to influential Italian director Dario Argento, and a synth-heavy score that could easily have been lifted straight from a plethora of ’80s slasher movies are both plus points. It’s these flashes of talent that manage to claw onto attention levels, but only just.
The violence itself, to seasoned genre buffs at the very least, is nothing to write home about. Sure, there may be some scenes which may induce a few winces, but this is where the previously mentioned pitfalls really come into play. Having overlooked and underwritten the characters of the police officers, when they get their comeuppance (for reasons that are never fully revealed, although they aren’t exactly saints – their introduction begs the question of how they ever managed to be officers in the first place) the overriding feeling is more like being a passive onlooker than having any real emotional attachment.
The most impressive and intriguing aspect is undoubtedly ‘The Father’. Played by new actor Mehmet Cerrahoglu, who was discovered working at a garage and has a distinct and super rare skin condition making him perfect for the role, The Father is a modern day Pinhead without the metallic accessories. He eludes to there being a higher power, with there being a reason for the insanity he instigates, and for a brief second, as a result of the fantastic performance, it’s believable. But when level-thinking prevails, Baskin disappointingly doesn’t really have anything important to say.
Final Thoughts: Gore hounds will find a lot to love in the blood-soaked depths of the abandoned police station, but its paper thin plot and lack of investment in characters means Baskin won’t be remembered for much else. It’s a promising start for newcomer director Can Evrenol though, and will most certainly help expand his fanbase outside of his home country.