Review by Derrick Carter
Running Time: 1 hour 37 minutes
MPAA Rating: Not Rated
(Turkish with English subtitles)
Directed by: Can Evrenol
Written by: Can Evrenol, Ogulcan Eren Akay, Cem Ozuduru & Ercin Sadikoglu
Starring: Muharrem Bayrak, Gorkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu, Fatih Dokgoz, Sabahattin Yakut & Mehmet Cerrahoglu
Adapted from the 2013 short film of the same name, BASKIN is directed and co-written by Can Evrenol. This gory supernatural Turkish horror flick takes obvious inspirations from the bizarre Italian films of Lucio Fulci and Dario Argento. In turn, it also suffers from the same issues that plague those films. These problems being: a jumbled nonsensical story and crazy shock value (which can be a positive in certain films, but mostly falls flat here). The film is certainly impressive to look at and sets up promise in the first half with a spooky atmosphere and a few effective chills. All of this promise quickly crumbles under the weight of a screenplay that goes nowhere, feels half-assed, and seems forced in its shocksploitation content.
Remzi, Arda, Yavuz, Apo, and Seyfi are five police officers spending a slow night at a restaurant. After Seyfi suffers a nervous breakdown in the bathroom and Yavuz gets into a fight with the waiter, the group of cops hits the road. The slow night suddenly becomes more eventful when they receive a distress call that summons them to Inceagac, a mysterious small town that’s rumored to be haunted. Once at the scene, the five officers discover that something horrifying awaits them…as there are satanic ceremonies a foot!
BASKIN deserves praise on a few fronts. The film looks great! There’s a color scheme of foreboding blacks, soothing blues, bloody reds, and eerie yellows. These manage to put a certain beauty into each scene…as disturbing as events become later on. The story also begins slowly with subtle hints towards supernatural occurrences, but never outright stating the obvious. There is even a legitimately creepy moment that had me very unnerved. The movie seems to be aiming to tell a deeper story as one character explains that hell is not a place, but rather something that we carry around with us and can access through a window in our minds.
Speaking of which, the main villain, known only as the Father, is very creepy. First-time actor Mehmet Cerrahoglu suffers from a skin condition that gives him a unique appearance, but this isn’t simply a case of a horror director “exploiting” someone with a “disability.” Quite the opposite as Cerrahoglu delivers his lines in a calm manner that makes all of the atrocities he commits in the last 30 minutes slightly creepier. The Father is the only positive thing in this film’s final act, which pretty much obliterates everything that BASKIN had going for itself with forced cheap shocksploitation (though one tiny moment did make me wince) and an ending that feels like a ridiculous cop-out. We’ve seen this ending many times before in many other movies (including some TWILIGHT ZONE episodes) and it feels like more of a cheat with each passing usage. It’s almost as if director/co-writer Can Evrenol didn’t know how to finish his story, so he threw a stupid slap-dash twist into the final minutes.
While Mehmet Cerrahoglu’s Father may be intimidating as hell, the other characters are bland and forgettable. Honestly, I had trouble telling these cops apart in certain scenes, because they devolve into stereotypical horror victims during the second half…with one guy meeting an off-screen demise in a movie that otherwise seems desperate to dish out gore. From the beginning, we’re shown that Seyfi is a wuss and Arda is an asshole. We come to know very little about Apo, other than he’s a cop. There are a few exposition dream sequences(?) given to Arda and Remzi that attempt to develop them a bit further as the main leads. These dreams also incorporate possible plot developments, but are hastily thrown together and don’t necessarily work.
It’s clear that BASKIN was made by someone who wanted to deliver a nightmarish tour-de-force that dove into a gore-soaked hell of depravity. I spotted influences from Fulci (there’s a direct reference to one of his most iconic gore gags) and even a reworking of music from CANNIBAL HOLOCAUST. This one gets messy with eyes being gouged out, disembowelments, cannibalism, and a WTF orgy scene. The film is clearly aiming for shocks, rather than scares, and it doesn’t necessarily succeed in that department. A lot of the second half (which becomes a bloodbath) comes off as rather silly, repetitive, unintentionally funny in moments, and downright stupid in the ending. There are positive things about BASKIN, but they’re outweighed by the negatives. I imagine that less discerning horror hounds who just want a blood-soaked flick with no coherent story might find something to enjoy in BASKIN and more power to them, but the film fell disappointingly flat for me.