The Turkish Horror Film ‘Baskin’ is Unsettling and Depraved

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Sometimes it’s best to look beyond the borders of America to understand a different face of the horror genre. Throughout the world, young exciting filmmakers are capturing their nightmares before the camera in the hopes of frightening people in cinemas across the globe. Baskin, the new Turkish horror film from director Can Evrenol, is a wonderfully stylized exercise in horror that borders on overkill in the gore department. Unsettling, startling, and overflowing with blood, Baskin is not a horror movie for the faint of heart.

The film opens with five police officers sharing stories in a local restaurant, topics ranging from sex to more sex. “70% of all Turkish men lose their virginity by fucking an animal,” one of the officers says at the table. There’s a general sense of unease surrounding these men, but their soon called out for back up in the town of Inceagac, a secluded little village with its own set of infamous rumors swirling about it. Before they can arrive, the officers crash their van in a creek. Other strange happenings seem to be following these officers as they make their way to an abandoned building dating back to the Ottoman Empire. Inside the house, they don’t find the officers who called for backup. Instead they discover a murderous cannibalistic cult that have summoned dark forces to lure the officers there for twisted rituals.

Baskin operates on an escalating scale of weirdness. Can Evrenol’s film establishes this early on by utilizing extreme angles and a stark contrast of blues and reds. The script by Evrenol, Ogulcan Eren Akay, Cem Ozuduru, and Ercin Sadikoglu works extremely well in the early frames in creating the ominous tone, with frogs playing a central role in teasing the terror that is to come. But once the film has gone fully off the rails and into the depths of insanity, it all becomes a bit too much. Yeah, there’s all sorts of shocking moments with ample amounts of gore and disfigurement. But this murderous cult and their bizarre initiation rituals are increasingly difficult to sit through, ghastly, gory, and completely lacking in taste and decency. If you like your horror with an edge of depravity, Baskin is the film for you.

The Turkish cast of Baskin mostly avail themselves well, especially as their confronted with their own mortality at the blood-soaked hands of these underground dwellers. As the lead, Gorkem Kasal does an admirable job. His character Arda has a history with the supernatural and his tenuous nature in the face of all this uncertainty is quite strong. However, his character is saddled with the burden of a ridiculous conclusion, one that is both quite silly and fitting.

There’s a very specific audience for a film like Baskin, one that prefers debauched thrills of varying degrees of disgust over a slow, atmospheric terror. The first half of Baskin is engaging and creepy, slowly building its oddities before unleashing the torrents of blood. Once those torrents of blood are unleashed, though, Baskin isn’t necessarily bad nor is it necessarily good. It just exists in its own world of sick B-movie thrills.

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