Whistling past the graveyard of the horror genre.
Director: Can Evrenol
The line between reality and dream is a bloody smudge for a group of Turkish police officers in Can Evrenol’s ambitious debut, Baskin. With sadistic glee Baskin follows the five men through the twists and dreamy turns of a wild nightmare spiral, gaining momentum along the way until it reaches a horrific crescendo. This starts with the languid uneasiness of the opening sequences. Evrenol uses drifting camera movements, ominous lighting, and extreme close-ups of bloody meat, as a visual prologue for the grimy horrorscape the men are unwittingly headed for.
The officers are out on patrol, when they get an ominous call for backup in a particular place in the Turkish backwoods no one wants to visit. Of the five, Arda (Gorkem Kasal) the newbie of the group, is, for the most part, the main character, given his dreams provide a grounding wire and an emotional thrust. This creates an interesting duality between the soft surrealism of the dream sequences and the grimy (that word again) seemingly earthbound horrors they eventually stumble upon, in some ways this cushions the blow of seeing eyes gouged out of their sockets and wild human dogs later in the film.
In using the word “grimy” an obligatory third time, it is the best descriptor of what the officers find in an abandoned building deep in the backwoods. This is where the movie shifts gears from a moody ghost story and sends five characters lurking into hell, replete with almost cartoonish levels of gory horror. But, it’s that griminess and congealed places where mud meets blood where Evrenol focuses his camera, highlighting palpable textures for a more visceral experience.
As the men drift deeper into the abandoned building the terrible sights and sounds grow more intense. There is no indication as to why they were chosen for this black mass but it doesn’t matter once they are captured and meet face to face Father (Mehmet Cerrahoglu) the strange little man who lords over the sick perversions in the building, which at this point has taken on a dirty dungeon look. Father postures and spouts a number of perfunctory lines, but it’s about the gory finale, intestines get pulled from guts, the aforementioned eye gouging, and a number of other unspeakable sights and sounds.
Baskin is more of an experience than a movie. Happy endings, character arcs, and dialogue and brushed aside in favor of a hopeless and original interpretation of hell that is more easily seen than explained.
House (Nobuhiko Obayashi, 1977)
Hellraiser (Clive Barker, 1987)