When a group of police officers answer a call for backup, what should have been a routine assignment swiftly descends into a phantasmagorical fight for survival as they are driven to the edge of their sanity, and seemingly to hell itself.
Aside from a legacy of mass producing hilariously cheap and shoddy knockoffs of major Hollywood releases in the ‘60s and ‘70s, Turkey is not a country particularly renowned for its cinematic output. Its horror production in particular has little of note beyond the abysmal Exorcist remake Seytan.
Baskin, however, is a different beast entirely. Its vision of hell on earth is grimy, bestial and utterly mesmerising, and while its component parts will be more than a little familiar to any fan of the genre, its garish realisation drowns the eminently recognisable turns in an oppressive glare of tinted crimson. Imagine Jacob’s Ladder directed by Lucio Fulci and you’re most of the way there, the comparison coming not just from the volume of gore on display, but also the lurid imagery, darkened cinematography and central concept of a threshold to the beyond opened by human suffering. It could practically be a follow-up to the Gates of Hell trilogy.
Throughout the film, there is a lingering uncertainty over what is truly happening, what is merely a vivid hallucination, and what is a lucid memory pulled open as the lines of reality are further blurred, even within context of the waking nightmare in which the men have become trapped. Some particularly effecting moments come from flashes of the horrors unfolding before the officers’ eyes where you can’t be sure quite exactly what’s going on, while also being somewhat hesitant over whether or not you actually want to find out.
It’s impossible to tell exactly when the group first entered the earthbound hellscape, and with some implication that they may well have entered its purgatorial snare before the film even begins, it becomes difficult to envision any way out for them. There are some interesting suggestions about a couple of the characters, implying at various points that there may have been some kind of pre-destiny at work, but the film forgets to expand upon them, leaving any overall explanation of events open to viewer interpretation.
While you can’t in all honesty declare Baskin to be much more than a by-the-numbers horror wrought with a vivid aesthetic, the lavish presentation of its visceral vision gives it a distinctive flair that makes it worth seeking out.
BASKIN / CERT: 18 / DIRECTOR: CAN EVRENOL / SCREENPLAY: VARIOUS / STARRING: GORKEM KASAL, ERGUN KUYUCU, MUHARREM BAYRAK, MEHMET CERRAHOGLU, FATIH DOKGOZ, SABAHATTIN YAKUT / RELEASE DATE: AUGUST 1ST