While a police squad are responding to a distress call in a backwater town in Turkey, they inadvertently stumble into Hell, where they bear witness to a Black Mass and a lot of other really nasty business.
Baskin is an odd one. The title is a Turkish word, which translates to ‘police raid’, and while small parts of this film feel like a typical cop movie, Baskin isn’t content with just one genre. Director Can Evrenol has cobbled together little bits of cop movies, horror, fantasy, exploitation films and frogs to make this strange Frankenstein’s monster.
While it may seem like the mixing of tones and genre conventions would weigh Baskin down, that isn’t the case. Make no mistake, the film is weighed down by many things, but the wild potion of genres and styles is not it. In fact, the mix is well done, and the way most elements interact and work together is quite laudable.
The combination of one-note macho cops, art-house lighting and nauseating practical effects seem in direct contrast, yet they are stitched together all the same, and this weird amalgamation of moods and influences creates one cohesive tone.
The standout elements of Baskin are by far the light and the music. Neon lights aren’t the most traditional choice for illumination, but they are an immediate shorthand to communicate a precise atmosphere to audiences; an atmosphere that is unconventional, bold, and dangerous. And the score often does the same. With the exception of a few questionable music queues, we are treated to thumping bass, electronic vibes and the occasional synth note to remind us of the 80s influences Baskin is rooted in.
But now, to the film’s less favourable elements. Violence has a place in film. Gore has a place in film. Ambiguous brown substances that are probably poop have a place in film. And even engaging in pseudo-bondage while wearing a goat’s skull over one’s face has a place film. Evrenol decided the place for those things was in Baskin. I disagree. Just as the gore and depravity started seeming endless and without purpose, the audience would have to endure a jarring ‘time jump’ before being thrust back into the filth once more. The interplay between the film’s confusing structure and its indulgence in blood and other bodily excrement could become overwhelming at times. This is not because there is a limit to gore or to violence (to repeat a previous sentiment, everything has a place), but rather, it is overwhelming because this gore didn’t mean anything. Nothing meant anything. It almost seems as though the entire story was merely a construction built for the express purpose of wallowing in the blood and the muck and the grime of what one can only assume is Satan’s holiday house. And the sometimes-interesting things the film does with jumps in time and place devolve into a convoluted device used to deliver a ‘twist’ ending, which is actually quite predictable.
Grimy, dimly lit, and singular. Baskin had great potential, and seemed like it wanted to say something, but instead it settled for shocking us.
Baskin is screening at the Sydney Underground Film Festival at 3 PM on SUNDAY 18TH SEPTEMBER, grab your tickets here.
The character of Father is modelled on the demigod character Colonel Kurtz from Apocalypse Now.
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