“Baskin“, an overlooked 2015 Turkish Horror film, is an intense, often brutal exercise in surrealist storytelling centred around a group of cops who get more than they bargained for after receiving a request for backup to a remote village. Realizing they have no idea as for who, or what, called them there, our cast of characters survive a car crash confused, half drunk and bruised, and on investigating the mysterious, abandoned building where the call originated, things quickly go from bad to worse. As bodies begin to pile up, they realize that they might just have entered through the gates of Hell.
From first-time feature director Can Evrenol, “Baskin” is adapted from his 2013 short film with the same title. First screened at TIFF on September 11th, Baskin received positive reviews, notably for the performance from the lithely muscled, striking Mehmet Cerrahoglu as the villain, The Father. The decision to expand the short into a feature can be credited to Hostel and Cabin Fever director Eli Roth, who saw it at Stiges and asked Evernol if he had a feature script, which was all the inspiration needed to expand the concept to a feature format. Light on plot, “Baskin” hits the ground running and quickly stacks scenes of shocking brutality on top of one another, punctuated by hypnotic, ethereal visions from the Doe eyed Arda (Görkem Kasal), who possesses strange psychic gifts that may unlock the mystery of what brought them to The Father.
Evrenol got “Baskin” independently financed and shot in Istanbul with a shoestring budget of $350,000. It was a 28-night shoot, with no day shots and one month of pre-production and 2 months of post. In an interview with FANGORIA, director Can said:
“Our permits were at times iffy, so we were always stressed about the authorities finding out what the hell we were doing in some of our crazy locations, We had naked people on set in the most conservative areas of town. That was a constant stress. Also, the time limitations for certain scenes made them really difficult, and that single underwater shot cost us almost half a shooting night.”
The first half of the film slowly gets the audience acquainted with its main cast of characters, a group of crooked cops played by an assortment of Turkish TV regulars and indie actors. Some are kind, some are violent assholes, some are furniture who barley speak… this dynamic combines to make them feel like real people rather than the cutout characters of mainstream Horror. The character’s personalities are instrumental to their part in the pageant they’ve unwittingly entered for The Father’s entertainment, as each gets their defining moment and an oh-so-satisfying death scene, so nothing feels forced for comic effect or obvious conflict.
Evenrol takes his time inducting you into his nightmare, using impressive in camera effects and his incredible cinematography to guide your eyes all over each frame and relish in its dream like qualities. Bathed in a bruised purple and ochre, “Baskin” plays as much with blood and guts as it does light and shadow, combining the visceral impact of ample gore and the unsettling anxieties of the dark together for maximum effect. Gorgeously shot, there’s a good reason it doesn’t look like a traditional Horror flick:
“Baskin is our amazingly talented D.O.P. Alp Korfali’s first feature film. Korfali is great with light, color and a general sense of picture. He’s definitely not a horror fan, but he has great taste in art and cinema. I wanted Baskin to be a glamorous, surreal and very dark movie. Our visual inspiration was movies like Only God Forgives, Frontiers, Calvaire, It and such… It was a 28-night shoot, with no day shots. We had to be quite mobile, fast and versatile with the camera. Under the circumstances it was Arri Amira that gave us the best test results.” – Can Evrenol, BLOODY DISGUSTING
“Baskin” is the type of film some may decry as “style over substance”, however while light on story it still delivers some unexpected twists, glorious practical effects and sumptuous visuals in a refreshing vision from a first time director. You can feel the energy in every frame, and each character feels fully developed, from the unique ghouls who dwell in the underworld to the gang of bewildered cops who wind up their victims. “Baskin” never tries to do too much, and what is does do, it delivers with a bang. Check the trailer below and get ready for a trip to hell!
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