Director: Can Evrenol
Starring: Gorkem Kasal, Mehmet Cerrahoglu & Muharrem Bayrak
Given Turkey’s recent coup and escalating PKK tensions, it’s easy to read Baskin as a revenge fantasy. The film follows five police officers – a boorish homophobe, two stoic clairvoyants, all bleeding heart pop fans – as they are slowly dismembered by a sadomasochistic cult that may or may not have access to Hell. While it’s hard to gather any concrete meaning (or narrative) from the film, it’s gloriously satisfying to watch corrupt cops get their dues. In a decrepit abandoned police station, no less. A villager leading the troupe to their death actually yells “Fuck the police”.
We follow Arda, the youngest police officer, as he negotiates his fellow officers’ machismo, tries to do his surrogate father proud, and tackles several nested narratives and the threat of eternal recurrence. Arda suffers premonitions, sees ghosts, and may be the only person who can save the brutalised, semi-human Satanists chained to the former police HQ – physical reminders of the sins of the State.
Third-act torture porn notwithstanding, Baskin is heavier on supernatural dread than outright gore. Evrenol truly excels at atmospherics, notably in misophonia-inducing sound design (sizzling meat and squelching mud) and Refn-esque neon nightscapes. And while Baskin draws on Hills Have Eyes hillbillies and a soundtrack reminiscent of John Carpenter, horror tropes are balanced by uniquely Turkish images: Sufi shrines, a misbaha, dilapidated Ottoman architecture. It’s not the deepest film you’d catch at RevFest, but it is a lot of fun, and a pretty exciting contribution to the slasher/splatter canon.
Words by Zoe Kilbourn