Fantastic Fest 2015: Baskin, by Chase Beck
Can Evernol’s Baskin begins with a nightmare and ends in a relentless hell on Earth. The trip there is fun and thrilling; the destination is tedious. Shortly after the opening nightmare of Baskin ends, we see five police officers taking a meal and discussing betting brackets in a small restaurant. The beginning of this Turkish film plays out like a cop movie. We learn a little about each officer and their attitudes and positions relative to one another.
The film lacks that multi-million dollar film grading look that we have come to expect from films these days. This might lead some to believe that it is cheap and disposable fodder. Those individuals would be wrong. While it appears to try too hard at times, the story is quite good and the writing is solid. As the cops leave the restaurant, after witnessing some ominous portents, they receive a distress call from some officers in the nearby town. Some of the officers seem to recall disturbing stories about that town. The film continues to slowly build the tension with various events, both mundane and supernatural. Even frogs become unsettling. Their presence creepily punctuates the action.
Eventually, the cops arrive at an abandoned police station. In any other cop movie, this would be the location of the final stand-off, the cops barricading themselves in to defend themselves from attackers from the outside. Not so, for Baskin. The building is festooned with odd hanging totems that seem to be roughly woven clumps of plant fiber, hair, bones and rotting meat both inside and out. As the officers delve deeper, despite their wariness, training, and armaments, they are entirely unprepared to handle what they find.
This Turkish horror film begins like a supernatural mystery mixed with a cop drama/action movie set-up. However, during its final thirty minutes or so it is solely torture porn. To Evernol’s credit, Baskin does manage to keep the gore and torture fresh. He did mention that he would have enjoyed making a movie with tentacles instead but lacked the budget to do so. I have never cared much for the torture porn subgenre and Baskin does not do anything to change my opinions. However, were I to hear that the director was attempting another genre of film I would be first in line. I can recognize a fresh take and methodical approach that I would love to see when not accompanied by eye-gouging, intestine ripping, and other stomach churningly uncomfortable elements. In the end, Baskin reminded me of some of Clive Barker’s film adaptations, in my opinion far too often sacrificing good story and scares to fixate on offal and viscera.