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Review: ‘Baskin’ (2015) – Stylized, Baffling Hell



Review: Baskin (2015) - Stylized, Baffling Hell

While the waking world will always favor order and organization, nightmares have their own inherent logic. There are glimpses of the real-world, but things are warped and refracted in strange funhouse mirrors in our nightmares. We may recognize our surroundings, or the cast of characters may be familiar. Afterall, one of the scariest truths of nightmares is our inability to initially distinguish them from our real lives. How many times have you been dreaming something horrible, but at the same time you’re 100% convinced it’s all real? And who among us hasn’t experienced the unique terror of waking in fright, only to learn we’re still in the dream? It’s this close imitation of our real lives, this through-the-looking-glass version of everything we know, that fuels our nightmares.

And Baskin is pure nightmare fuel.

Look, that term gets thrown around a lot these days. Oftentimes, it’s used interchangeably with words like “scary” or “spooky.” When everything is described as “nightmare fuel,” we stray further and further away from what the phrase really means. But what truly burns to give energy to the nightmares we see when we sleep at night? Baskin, in all of its awful unexplainable terror, is made from this very same matter.

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Like all of your worst nightmares, Baskin begins firmly rooted in the realm of the believable. We meet our cast of characters, five police officers, chewing the fat at a small restaurant. Their conversation, inane at first, slowly reveals bits of each personality, and we learn who these guys are through the bits of truth that slip through their discussion. There’s Apo, the jokester, Arda, the rookie, Yavuz, hot-headed storyteller, and Seyfi, the outsider. Holding court over it all is their leader, Boss Remzi, a seen-it-all veteran of the force and father figure to Arda. The men joke and argue amongst themselves, and end up receiving a call for backup from the local town of Inceagac.

To attempt to summarize the action that follows would be disastrous for two reasons. Firstly, it would spoil what is genuinely a rewarding, if labyrinthine, plot. Second, and perhaps most importantly, a dry recounting of what unfolds would do absolutely no justice to what actually takes place. There’s no way to put into clear enough words what transpires.

It is worth noting, however, that the film’s thesis is seemingly found within a single line of dialogue. Baba, an infantile demigod that commands a cabal of disfigured worshippers offers what is perhaps the crux of the entire movie:

“Hell is not a place you go to. You carry Hell with you at all times. You carry it inside you.”

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To read the simple iMDb description for Baskin, one might mistakenly feel they understand what they’re stumbling upon. “A squad of unsuspecting cops go through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building.” This both is and is not at all what the movie is about. Through the clever use of flashback, time loops and callbacks, Can Evrenol, the director, confounds viewers while leading them into a helltrap containing their own worst fears. Everenol lists The Descent, Hellraiser, and Apocalypse Now among the movie’s biggest influences and it shows. Baskin shares a lot of imagery with Hellraiser in its depiction of an otherworldly Grand Guignol hellscape. Wall-to-wall chains and flesh will have you searching for appearances from Pinhead et al. One need only look at the title of The Descent to see where Everenol sought inspiration. Just like the characters in The Descent, Everenol’s cast of cops climb down, down, down into the depths of their own demise. And while Col. Kurtz is waiting for us after the leong journey into the heart of darkness in Apocalypse Now, what awaits in Baskin is far more chilling, and far more inhuman.

Many movies may contain warnings for the “weak of heart,” but Baskin is truly an experience meant only for the steel-willed. Trigger warnings abound: This movie contains beastiality, rape, mutilation, disembowelment and plenty of other vomit-inducing topics and themes. It’s truly a brutal movie, and should only be recommended to those who know what they’re getting into. I don’t know if there are any Turkish cultural precedents for this particular depiction of hell, or if the movie’s country of origin has nothing to do with what we see. Either way, Baskin contains some of the most uniquely otherworldly imagery I’ve seen in a 2010’s horror movie.

Baskin is a worthwhile viewing experience, if only for the feeling of surviving a trip into hell. It is currently available for rent or purchase on a number of prominent streaming services, and I would absolutely not recommend it as a party/group watch. Check it out alone, if you dare, but know full well you are going to see some truly vile things.