“Baskin,” an Uneven (and Disgusting) Horror Film, Still Offers a Few Welcome Surprises


Baskin (Can Evrenol, 2015)

So I may have not yet had a chance to see (the, by all accounts, overwrought and dreary) Batman v Superman: Dawn of Justice (it opened last night) – a “problem” that I may or may not rectify (I did not like Zack Snyder’s first Superman installment, Man of Steel),* but I did get a chance to check out an odd Turkish horror film, which opens in New York today and is simultaneously available on VOD. If you like your blood and guts spoken in a foreign language, with some genuinely fresh takes on the genre, than Baskin could be the movie for you. Based on director Can Evrenol’s 2013 short of the same name, this strange and (at times) compellingly repulsive movie offers some genuine (albeit vomitous) thrills, even while being unable to surmount some significant script issues. In other words, this is not a good film, but is a sometimes entertaining one.

In the interest of full disclosure, I must admit that I do not hold great love for horror, particularly of the gory variety. So there is a high threshold for me to overcome before I will find anything to like in a movie filled with severed body parts and spurting arteries. What I do appreciate, however, is an eerie mood and setting, and the occasional high-concept twist. Here, that twist takes the form of a character who is able to shift time and place in a moment of crisis. The fact that he can’t really control this ability makes it all the more interesting, since we never know how much this skill will ultimately help.

In Baskin (title never explained), we find ourselves in the company of a (mostly) deeply unsympathetic group of policemen. They eat dinner in an isolated restaurant while a hooded figure prowls outside, unseen, eventually delivering mysterious meat to the cook. Soon, we begin to wish that the hooded figure would enter the fray earlier, rather than later, as all these guys talk about is sex and their abuse of power. But no, it’s all just set-up, and we can only wonder why. Dinner done, they leave, but not before one of them has had a strange psychotic moment in the bathroom (frog involved) and another has picked a fight with the waiter. Good riddance to them, I say. Which is good, because soon my wish will be granted.

Once on the road, our friends hear a call for help on the police radio that brings them to one of those dark and creepy places that anyone who has ever seen a horror film knows not to go into (but isn’t that why fans of the genre watch?). What awaits them, inside, though fairly disgusting, is, at the very least, not entirely expected, and that almost redeems the whole affair. The Black Mass they stumble upon – and of which they inadvertently become a part – has some well-rendered sequences that are hard not admire. And then there’s that character who keeps flashing back in time to liven up the proceedings. So while I would not recommend this film to the casual viewer of horror films, anyone looking for something even a little new in the genre should check it out, and weather its screenplay flaws.

*[Note from later in the day: I did see it.]

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