by: Hawk Ripjaw (A Toast)
Rookie cop Arda (Gorkem Kasal), since childhood, has been haunted by a hooded figure reaching through a doorway with a bloody hand. Years later, with his chief and adoptive father Remzi (Ergun Kuyucu) and the rest of their squad, out relaxing at a diner, they receive a call for backup at a nearby abandoned house. Close to their destination, they suddenly plow into a figure on the road and careen into a riverbank. Upon climbing out, they find themselves at their destination, with a very creepy, almost silent family having a cookout right outside the house. Stepping inside, the first find a lone officer who has gone insane. Then they keep going, and find a horrific Black Mass; Baskin.
Right off the bat, Can Evrenol takes daring, rewarding steps with his direction. Helming his first feature based on his own short film of the same name, Evrenol actively avoids jump scares and even traditional cinematography in favor of a fantastic slow burn and a nonlinear plot progression. In the early restaurant scene, his use of framing and sound makes something as innocuous as slicing meat for the grill almost unbearably ominous. It’s one of the best things about Baskin: it takes almost a full hour until there is any sort of bloodshed; it trains you to be nervous, just waiting for something horrifying to happen, so that it’s that much more intense once hell breaks loose.
And does it ever break loose. In a matter of seconds, the slow burn of tension explodes into a spectacular orgy of stomach-churning gore: this is one of the most sickening, inventively nasty films in recent memory, coming close in some respects to the famous kill scene from last year’s Bone Tomahawk, but outpacing it in delivery: as horrifying as it is, Baskin doles it out in slow, agonizing fashion; each drop of the knife is that much more painful when it has a perceived lifetime of buildup. Yet, almost all of it is only minimally shown, letting your mind fill in the rest.
Outside of the house, scenes are awash in bright primary colors not unlike the old films of Dario Argento. This Suspiria pallet is beautiful and unsettling, giving these early scenes a dreamlike, reality-blurring feeling that contrasts with the harsh horror of what comes next. If this is what Can Evrenol can do with his debut feature, we have much to anticipate in his future. Ulas Pakkan’s score does exactly what it needs to in the moment, with spine-tingling synth giving way to guttural drum beats as by turns we’re brought deeper into madness.
Exhaustingly horrifying and incredibly stressful, Baskin begins to crawl under your skin from the opening shot of a skeletal action figure and continues to worm its way into your psyche as it goes on. For the first half, less is more. For the second, it makes up for it in horrifically grandiose fashion. Completely devoid of jump scares, it instead opts for a creeping dread and a progressively more terrible feeling of helplessness, which is leagues more effective than almost anything else in the genre in recent memory.
It’s not just great horror. It’s the best horror film in years.
Baskin (2016) Movie Drinking Game
Take a Drink: every time you see frogs.
Do a Shot: for each dream sequence.
Take a Drink: each time the movie indulges its odd fixation with doors, either visually or through dialogue.
Do a Shot: for each time you thought the movie was going to stop getting more fucked up, then immediately proved you wrong.