When you think about the country of Turkey, ‘horror films’ probably isn’t the first thing that pops into your mind, but after the international success of Can Evrenol’s Baskin, that may be changing, at least a little. It certainly isn’t the first horror movie made in Turkey, but it is by far the most successful and just as A Serbian Film did in 2010, it puts an unexpected country into the international horror conversation. Based upon the 2013 short film of the same name, Baskin is a surreal and gruesome journey into a nightmarish world.
The central characters are a group of police officers who we first see hanging out in a small restaurant late at night, casually chatting about bestiality (!) and fucking trans hookers….like you do. After beating up the waiter and leaving, they receive a call for backup and head out to a decrepit house in the middle of nowhere, where they stumble upon a gruesome Satanic ritual and perhaps the gateway to Hell itself. Needless to say, shit starts to go south in a hurry.
The first thing that stands out about this film is how incredibly well shot it is. The cinematography is incredible by any standard but the fact that Evrenol was able to achieve such rich, gorgeous visuals in his first feature on a budget of only $350,000 is truly impressive. He also uses the surreal storyline to create some incredible set pieces such as the dream scene of Arda (Görkem Kasal) plunging into water and being rescued by giant hands. Most importantly though, the film is laden with grotesque imagery, genuinely unnerving set design, and gloriously brutal violence.
Beyond just the quality of the image itself, Evrenol also makes some smart stylistic choices that pay off very well. One of the most notable is the casting of visually striking character actors for some of the roles that give the film a surreal authenticity that you simply cannot replicate with latex. There are a few here, but the standout is, of course, the casting of Mehmet Cerrahoglu, who’s unique physical condition makes for one of the most memorable and interesting faces you will ever see on film.
The story itself is heavily imbued with dream logic and a surreal, almost Lynchian quality that gives the feeling of being trapped in a waking nightmare. Because of this, Baskin may require a few viewings to fully process it’s meaning but that’s okay because the twisted visuals and copious amounts of blood are entertaining enough to keep sick fucks (such as myself) coming back for more. Overall, a very interesting, unusual film that makes me excited to see what Evrenol (as well as Turkey as a whole) have in store for us in the future.