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John’s Horror Corner: Baskin (2015), a disturbed, disorienting and gory Turkish terror about cults and Hell.

May 17, 2017

MY CALL:  Fans of visceral and unapologetic yet intelligent horror should enjoy this.  MORE MOVIES LIKE BaskinReally hard to say.  This film is “a little” like a lot of iconic horror films without really being terribly similar to any one of them.  In this review I make comparisons to 13 horror films.  Among those, I’d say Hellraiser (1987), Event Horizon (1997) and The Void (2016) are the closest match without really being a match at all.

The Turkish word “baskin” means “[police] raid”

We spend nearly the entire first 30 minutes of this film getting to know a squad of five Turkish police officers.  A band of crooked perverted storytellers, they beat up kitchen boys, walk out on the bill, have Turkish hip-hop singalongs in the squad van, and clearly watch each other’s backs.  Over the course of this strange character study, I come to find them almost equally as despicable as, well…sort of likable.

They respond to a call to the remote Turkish countryside, a land of poor radio signals and eerie local folklore about shrines. It feels like The [Eastern European] Hills Have Eyes (1977, 2006) complete with shallow gene-pooled locals and a creepy abandoned manor.  From there, things take an infernal turn for the worse and to tell you more would ruin the fun.

For his first-time feature length film, director Can Evrenol (The Field Guide to Evil) packs a mean punch. Long dialogues stage our characters like the acts of a play, and the discontinuity in our timeline creates a surreal, trippy, nightmarish tone in which we question what’s actually happening—what’s actually connected?

From surreal we slip into pandemonium stew flavored with just dashes of numerous familiar horrors: momentary sprigs of The Blair Witch Project (1999) and Session 9 (2001), the atmospheric aroma of The Texas Chainsaw Massacre (1974) and Hellraiser (1987), a macabre Martyrs (2008) meets The Last Shift (2015) marinade, and the warm cult charm of Nightbreed (1990) and Silent Hill (2006).

There is a mild sense of Lovecraftian madness, but having lost its elegant subtlety to an evil meat grinder.  Not sure what I mean?  Think Event Horizon (1997) or The Void (2016), complete with other-worldly explanations of what Hell “really is.”  I mean, it gets brutal, gross, a bit perverse, and gory. There’s lots of blood, some intestine-tugging disemboweling, throat slitting, eye gauging and even a twisted (but thankfully brief) birth scene.

Some things are sort of explained, other things are somewhat implied, and some specifics leave us in the dark to figure out on our own—and that’s okay. Much as with The Shrine (2010) or Oculus (2014), this film will drop the curtain leaving you asking yourself “what just happened,” “was all that real” and “what was up with all those frogs?”  Then, regarding the most important of your questions, you’ll probably pause and say “oooooooh, that’s how it’s all connected” as you realize what happened.

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7 Comments leave one →
  1. May 17, 2017 11:44 am

    I haven’t heard of Baskin. But I love literally every movie you’ve mentioned here, so this is definitely right up my street. Thanks for introducing me to this movie! 🙂

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 17, 2017 11:47 am

      I’d say Baskin isn’t as good as any of the mentioned films…but Baskin is still worth people’s time. It’s more interesting than good–but it’s still good horror with a nice cerebral angle.

      • May 17, 2017 11:49 am

        Slight echoes are good enough for me. To be fair, it’s difficult to measure up to any of those! 😉

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 17, 2017 11:50 am

      That’s the right idea. Same goes for The Void–which I loved for the effects and concepts, but had terrible writing.

  2. May 18, 2017 11:19 pm

    I’ve watched this twice–I think the second time just to make sure I didn’t dream the damned thing. Not a “great movie,” as others point out, but definitely an experience. (And my did-I-dream-it line isn’t that far from the kind of “experience” this movie provides: oneiric, like Hellraiser or Texas Chainsaw.

    • John Leavengood permalink
      May 19, 2017 11:23 am

      Yeah, the atmosphere seized the viewers with a powerful grip than even most effective films. I was quite engaged.

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  1. John’s Horror Corner INDEX: a list of all my horror reviews by movie release date | Movies, Films & Flix

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