BASKIN: Take a Ride to the Heart of Hell

Baskin. 2015. Directed by Can Evrenol. Screenplay by Ogulcan Eren Akay, Evrenol, Cem Ozuduru, & Ercin Sadikoglu.
Starring Muharrem Bayrak, Mhemet Akif Budak, Fadik Bülbül, Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Elif Dag, Mümin Kaar, Derin Cankaya, Leman Sevda Daricioglu, Gorkem Kasal, & Ergun Kuyucu.
Film Colony/Mo Film/XYZ Films.
Unrated. 97 minutes.

POSTER A bigger remake of his own film of the same name (trailer here for the awesome 2013 short), director Can Evrenol’s Baskin is plain and simply lots of fun. The horror genre can get tired, and it does. Time and time again. Yet those of us who love it, we keep on digging it until something else comes along. Everybody went wild for excellent little movies such as It Follows and The Witch – such as myself. Loved those flicks. Now, a lot of people are also raving about Baskin.
What happens when you cross police officers with horror? Well, some try to emulate John Carpenter a little too closely. For instance, both Let Us Prey and Last Shift evoked an element of Carpenter’s Assault on Precinct 13; to decent effect. Although overall they were not amazing movies, even if they were pretty decent. While the Turkish Baskin uses the premise of police officers trapped, fighting for their lives, it takes a huge detour from anything Carpenter-like. I’m not saying Evrenol reinvents the wheel here, or that he completely innovates something new. However, a fun horror movie is a fun horror movie… is a fun horror movie. Period. I saw a couple reviews complaining about the plot tapering off, not following through after the focus early on over the officers. Not sure what movie they were watching. Because for me, getting to know them, seeing their lives and their interpersonal relationships before Hell breaks loose, that helped to make the horror all the more terrific, and simultaneously terrifying.
Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.15.01 PM Honestly, I saw someone online – an amateur reviewer – saying “Where did the plot go?”, or something similar. Yes, the plot does dive into the horror of it all. But that’s what this was all about, it was never about the lives of these men. It’s about the hard reality of policemen bumping up against the supernatural. That’s the beauty of it! These men, who are meant to be rational, lawful, by the book sort of people, end up in the midst of a Hell they can’t possibly understand. And plus, for the first half hour or so we’re treated to a ton of conversation between characters, lots of dialogue, even a Reservoir DogsGoodfellas-like diner scene to start. Not sure what some were looking for, as if this was meant to be some kind of cop drama.
The eeriness is always lurking, too. We see a strange figure outside the diner, dressed in rags, carrying some kind of bucket. Then once we see the figure later, reality begins slipping through the cracks, as everything gets a little psychedelic.
Some of the horror is absolutely mental. As in just too much. But most of it was properly shocking, in the right sort of sense. The officers are confronted with a fluid reality in this Hell they’ve entered. So from one minute to the next there’s an inescapable sense that nothing is as it seems. Finally, things plunge into the deep end later and never come back.
Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.02.32 PMScreen Shot 2016-04-05 at 8.34.03 PM There are some vicious moments that really take the whole Black Mass stuff to another level. At one point there’s even a Cannibal Holocaust-like bit of music that calls us back to earlier works of nastiness. As for cliche moments there are one or two that might border on that. Mostly it is a load of truly nightmarish imagery conjured from the dark recesses of the mind. And while some scenes may come off as trying too hard to push forward that idea of Satanic worship, or whatever deity they happen to be worshipping, it all plays into the madness. Baskin is above all a feverish dream of bloody horror. It keeps descending and descending into chaos. At times it’s even downright disgusting. When one character is forced on his knees with a woman wearing a bloody, horned animal head, that entire sequence is brutally disturbing. Honestly, the last half hour of the movie is absolute mania. It hypnotises you with how wildly savage it is, and the blood, the gore, all those aspects keep you glued to the screen. The strangeness of what you’ll watch is astounding.
Also, there’s again this dream aspect, or an element of a bending reality. So there are moments you won’t even know what exactly’s going on. Though, in the end you’ll have some idea. The best of this film keeps you off guard. Whether it be its blood and gore, the shocks, or whether it’s the fact you don’t know if something’s really happening or what may be going on.
Screen Shot 2016-04-05 at 9.11.42 PM When a nice electronic bit of score kicks in near the end things get intense. Love the way the music elevates this whole moment, aided by a choice use of slow motion that makes the action all that much more brutal. Afterwards it moves into some strings, which is nice, too. This all leads up to an unbelievable ending that, for me, truly worked. Not the most original of ideas in terms of the whole Hell aspect, but still works.
Because what else do you want? Did you expect a movie such as Baskin to end off on a happy note? I think not. And it’s also a bit of a gut punch. Even if you see it coming.
This is a great little horror flick. Absolutely a 4-star horror that pushes the boundaries of the whole Black Mass-Satanic worship sub-genre. In the last couple years we’ve seen lots of this type of stuff especially, from decent (see Last Shift) to fairly dismal (see Regression). This is one movie that definitely went above and beyond. There are flaws, though, most of those can be forgiven because it is just a hardcore slice of horror cinema. Many modern horrors try their hand at being this brutal, not many succeed. Baskin is a literal walk through Hell and nightmare territory, an enjoyable one at that.

2 thoughts on “BASKIN: Take a Ride to the Heart of Hell

  1. Leo Francis

    Great review. But the way, I am certain that the piece of music you refer to, is actually the same piece of music used in Cannibal Holocaust. Though I can’t seem to find verification of that anywhere. Anyways…. Great movie. Loved it.

    Liked by 1 person

    1. Thanks! And I agree, I’m certain it has to be the same. It’s either exactly the same, or they just covered it almost identically. Sort of one of those unmistakable riffs in horror music. If you do come across anything about it, please share!


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