A squad of unsuspecting cops goes through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building.
I really need to get myself more in the know when it comes to foreign horror movies, apparently I’m missing all of the good stuff by staying in my comfort zone here in North America. Baskin, as you probably guessed, is another foreign film. This time a Turkish film, directed by short-film director Can Evrenol. This one is a doozy, and I want to say here, I think that often critics can be a bit more forgiving of foreign horror films. It seems like there’s something about watching a movie with subtitles that makes them appreciate it more. In my younger days, this would have probably been my attitude, but believe me when I say: Baskin is a great horror film.
Something that immediately makes this film work is the aesthetic of the entire thing. Baskin is a hellish and surreal movie, that uses imagery and gore to create a stark and disturbingly beautiful film. While I wouldn’t say that it has quite the artistic feel that movies like Pan’s Labyrinth do, it does have a distinct and deeply visceral look to it. The gore effects are a bit on the cheesy side, but they also manage to be quite upsetting. There is also a real feeling of disorientation in the way the movie is edited, with odd angles and close shots. Add to that the dream-like quality of it, and you have one of the more fascinating films I’ve seen in awhile. One that also manages to be quite upsetting.
The black-mass and “satanic” imagery at play here definitely push the envelope a bit farther than I’m used to. Typically you see goth-teens, or adults in dark hoods making an “edgy” sacrifice that gets cut away from at the last minute. Baskin just dives in and gives you what you think of when you think “Black Mass”. It’s almost as if the main characters have stepped into the Mad Max: Fury Road universe, and could be joined at any second by Immortan Joe.
Speaking of our main characters, the cast of this film is excellent. You spend the first 20 or so minutes with the police just getting to know them. You see their bond, and get a sense for who they are as people. They’re all quite confident, and unafraid, which makes for a really interesting change when the characters find themselves prisoners and sacrifices. The machismo fades away and is replaced by a true and visceral fear. One actor who really stands out though, is Mehmet Cerrahoglu who plays Father. For much of the film I was under the impression that the actor was in make up, but a quick Google showed me that this was in fact not the case. Mehmet has an extremely distinct physical appearance, and manages to be deeply menacing throughout the movie.
While I did enjoy Baskin, and would even go so far as to recommend it, it is worth saying that the film is ultimately a little bit hollow. I’m not sure it’s making any grand point, or trying to be a meditation or a thoughtful piece, but damn does it ever get the job done. It’s dark, it’s disturbing, and it’s surreal. One to check out if movies don’t seem quite gross enough for you anymore.
It’s a mean little piece of exploitation that has significantly more entertainment value than what I’ve seen from Zombie or Roth. It’s also got a hell of a pay off that works really well.
MY RATING: ****