'Baskin' (2016)

© IFC Midnight

Synopsis: A group of policemen responding to a call for backup at an abandoned police station find themselves at the mercy of a bloodthirsty cult.

Cast: Muharrem Bayrak, Mehmet Cerrahoglu, Fatih Dokgöz, Gorkem Kasal, Ergun Kuyucu

Director: Can Evrenol

Studio: IFC Midnight

MPAA Rating: NR

Running Time: 97 minutes

Release Date: March 25, 2016 (limited/on demand)

Baskin Movie Trailer

Baskin Movie Review

Turkey isn't exactly known as a hotbed of horror movies (although there has been a mini-explosion of sorts since the turn of the century), but if 21st century horror cinema owes its strength to anything, it's the growth of genre filmmaking worldwide, so why not embrace what may be the most high-profile US release of a Turkish fright film to date (thanks to IFC Midnight): Baskin?

The Plot

Whereas in America, cops tend to patrol in pairs, apparently in Turkey, they roam around in teams, and one such group of five is leisurely cavorting one night -- making soccer bets, engaging in lunkheaded sex talk, chowing down at a local restaurant and singing along with the radio in their van -- when they receive a call for backup from a remote neighborhood that's long been rumored to house some weird, creepy goings-on.

As they approach the area, strange events begin to plague the policemen, from sudden illnesses to gruesome visions to swarms of frogs to a communication outage to a shadowy figure that causes them to crash. They make their way on foot to a century-old abandoned police station from where the call originated, only to find it occupied by a cult intent on taking them through the gates of Hell.

The End Result

Baskin, which means "raid" (as in a police raid) in Turkish, is a remarkably confident debut from director Can Evrenol, fueled by striking, ambitious visuals, a surreal dream-versus-reality approach and pacing that allows viewers to soak in the atmosphere.

Its assured, professional look is light years beyond what might most accurately represent America's limited awareness of Turkish horror cinema: the cult shlock of the 1974 Exorcist ripoff Seytan.

While its visual panache -- which vividly captures the grisly perversities one would imagine occupy Hell -- is Baskin's primary strength, it veers into "style over substance" territory as the story progresses, revealing that the writers don't know their own mythology any better than the audience does.

From backstories that amount to little to detours in and out of reality to a twist ending that shouldn't surprise anyone who's seen their fair share of this type of film, the plot feels jumbled and becomes just an excuse to plaster some nastiness on screen -- not that nastiness is a bad thing, particularly when it can make even jaded horror fans like myself wince on more than one occasion.

Perhaps the blurring of what's real and what's not could serve as an excuse for the vague plot points and oblique messages (cue empty rants about the nature of humanity, Hell, the soul, etc.), but to me, it's the natural defect of a short film (which was Baskin's origin) stretched to feature length without adequate planning.

It's a testament to the power of Baskin's imagery and atmosphere (and the solid performances), then, that the shortcomings fall by the wayside for long stretches as we absorb this freaky world in which the protagonists find themselves. It's an infernal nightmare along the lines of Even Horizon and Hellraiser, but with an old school Italian look and feel that combines Lucio Fulci's uncompromising gore with Dario Argento's intense coloring. Unlike a lot of low-brow splatter fare, Baskin takes its time establishing its tone, with several long, drawn-out shots that lend a hallucinatory effect.

It's far from perfect, but perhaps removing the writing from his hands will improve Evrenol's next directorial effort, which, if Baskin is any indication, should go a long way to propelling awareness of Turkish horror around the globe.

The Skinny

  • Acting: C+ (Mehmet Cerrahoglu steals the show as the diminutive cult leader.)
  • Direction: B- (Ambitious, confident, striking visuals.)
  • Script: D+ (A messy excuse for the gore scenes.)
  • Gore/Effects: B (Wonderfully gruesome.)
  • Overall: C+ (A beautifully hideous mess.)

Baskin is not rated by the MPAA.

Disclosure: The distributor provided free access to this movie for review purposes. For more information, please see our Ethics Policy.

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Your Citation
Harris, Mark H. "'Baskin' (2016)." ThoughtCo, Mar. 23, 2016, thoughtco.com/baskin-movie-review-4010582. Harris, Mark H. (2016, March 23). 'Baskin' (2016). Retrieved from https://www.thoughtco.com/baskin-movie-review-4010582 Harris, Mark H. "'Baskin' (2016)." ThoughtCo. https://www.thoughtco.com/baskin-movie-review-4010582 (accessed November 19, 2017).