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Review: Baskin – “A sanity shattering descent into purgatory”

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Turkish terror, Baskin, started life as a short; but is now a feature length film available on VOD and in UK cinemas on the 15th of July. Written and directed by Can Evrenol, Baskin stars Ergun Kuyucu (Taken 2), Muharrem Bayrak (The Long Way Home) and the unforgettably visaged Mehmet Cerrahoglu.

Baskin begins with a stunning set piece involving a young boy awaking to the sound of his parents having sex, before being terrorised by a hooded, cloaked and clawed entity. This opener sets Baskin’s stall out well with a highly storyboarded and incredibly impressively lit and composed look, and a focus on carefully and patiently making you feel gradually more and more uncomfortable – before removing your socks with precisely timed scares.

Years later, a team of five cops – the Captain, a rookie, the jerk, the nice guy and the driver – are called to a village called Inceagac for back-up. They have all heard “nasty stories” about the area, and when they arrive at a big house clearly full of bad juju they find an abandoned police car and catatonically terrified survivor.

With their radios having given up the ghost, their van wrecked, and finding themselves utterly cut off, the five descend into the depths of the decrepit building and a surreal Silent Hill-esque nightmare. The Captain and the rookie have a sort-of-Shining which may be the key to their survival, as Baskin sneakily jumps around through a non-linear narrative with a satisfying smart and snappy pay off.

The problem Baskin has is that evolution from being a short to being a feature. There are sequences that run a lot longer than they should, and sometimes the overt style and deliberately plodding pace feels suspiciously like padding, not panache.

That being said, this no-hurry approach serves as a great intro to our protagonists: the cops. Instead of trying to stuff in five lots of character building, we learn what we need via their actions and reactions in a lengthy Reservoir Dogs meets Death Proof diner scene, and a long sing song in their van.

This song – Dere Boyu Kavaklar – is by “JF” and has been on repeat on my Spotify since I heard it in Baskin. JF are also behind the rad retro score, that nestles up to quease-inducing sound design, full of squelchy squishing throughout, that will turn your tummy even when the gruesome gore and butchery is not on screen. This discombobulation of stomach and brain is further aided by an iconic make-up effects-free bad guy, The Father, a lot of off-kilter dutch angles, and swarms of doom-portending slimy frogs.

Creepy and skin-crawling, Evrenol clearly has a unique hellish vision, and Baskin feels familiar – with Craven, Argento and Fulci cues and nods throughout – and yet still original and near-exotic. Fantastic and fucked up, Baskin is a sanity shattering descent into purgatory that you don’t watch, so much as survive.

4-out-of-5

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