TIFF ’15: ‘Baskin’ is brutal, violent, and packed with gore

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Baskin PosterBaskin
Written by Ogulcan Eren Akay, Can Evrenol, Cem Ozuduru & Ercin Sadikoglu
Directed by Can Evrenol
Turkey/USA, 2015

Baskin is a fantasy/horror film out of Turkey by director Can Evrenol. The movie centers on a group of police officers who respond to an assignment that unwittingly takes them into a hellish dimension. The film’s slick production values and disturbing imagery ensures that Baskin will strike fear into the hearts of unsuspecting North American audiences.

During a seemingly uneventful night of eating barbecue and swapping tall tales, a squad of police officers are called in to back up another unit. Unbeknownst to the officers, the backup call that they’re responding to is directing them towards a malevolant force’s temple of worship. Even before the group arrives at their destination, the insidious force begins to influence the men, play tricks on their minds, and impair their judgement. As the officers slowly come to suspect that supernatural forces are at play, they may already be too deep inside of a hellish dimension to make it out with their lives.

Baskin is a technically well made movie. The film looks superior to most small scale horror pictures. There are plenty of disturbing visual effects in the film, and the make-up and practical effects never come off as low budget or fake. On top of the solid visuals, the film is also technically well executed. Right from the film’s onset, Evrenol establishes a chilling atmosphere that never relents. Even though it takes a while for the action to ramp up, for the duration of its run time, Baskin feels as though something terrible will happen at any moment. Evrenol positions the camera to lurk behind the characters, tilting it at odd angles, giving the impression that something is hunting the cast and that it’s capable of striking at any moment.

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The film works best in the first act as the supernatural forces at play slowly reveal themselves to the squad. The cops aren’t a group of ghost hunters, or even slightly heroic, they’re just a group of hapless guys who get the wrong call on the wrong night. Evrenol shows a great deal of restraint as a filmmaker, giving the audience ample opportunity to get to know the characters before sending them off into the unknown. The entire cast turns in natural and charismatic performances, but at the same time, none of them rise above generic horror movie fodder either. The film’s cast play down to earth, blue collar guys that wouldn’t look out of place sitting in a bar or on a park bench arguing over soccer matches. The relatable quality of the characters makes it that much more horrific when the film begins slaughtering them.

The film drastically changes up its pace in the third act. Up until the halfway point, Baskin teases the audience with an unknown form of evil that is always lurking just out of frame. The air gets sucked out of the movie after the antagonistic forces make themselves known, and Baskin becomes a different type of film. Those who are fans of torture porn and body horror are in for a treat, because Baskin serves up some hideous imagery.

The second half of Baskin is bloody and gruesome with unsettling visuals that are sure to give the squeamish nightmares long after the film is over. Can Evrenol doesn’t leave much to the imagination as he goes all in on the violence. Characters get mutilated very slowly, and the camera soaks up every slash, stab and cut in painstaking detail. Baskin’s macabre elements evoke Clive Barker’s classic work on Hellraiser, and should satisfy gore-hounds. Even though there is an audience for the film’s ghastly climax, the sequence goes on for too long and saps the momentum out of the film.

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Baskin is a decent small-scale horror film that will satisfy a specific type of horror fan. The movie looks great, has a captivating set up, and director Can Evrenol knows just how to unleash a horrific cinematic nightmare upon viewers in need of a good scare. Baskin is an ideal movie for those seeking plenty of gore and shock value. Anyone looking for a film that provides scares through atmosphere and psychological terror should take a pass


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