The caldron of postmodern horror receives another dubious contribution with Baskin, a veritable witch’s brew of knowing riffs on recent, extremist trends in European horror and the iconography of American genre staples like The Texas Chainsaw Massacre and Hellraiser. Evrenol’s film begins in a slow cooker, with four Turkish police officers tediously completing their routine evening duties, but quickly transitions to a brick oven of flames and torture as the men find themselves in the presence of Baba (Mehmet Cerrahoglu), a shrunken dungeon master who looks something like a cross between Hellraiser’s Pinhead and The Dark Knight Rises’s Bane.
The first half-hour is evidence that Evrenol’s done his homework on slow-burn horror films, as four piggish cops sit inside a diner exchanging (un)pleasantries, like the fact that “Twenty percent of Turkish men lose their virginity by fucking an animal.” During the bawdy small talk, Evrenol cuts to numerous angles around the restaurant, even lingering at one point from a high angle above a spinning ceiling fan. In the kitchen, an unnamed person begins to cut and grill meat on a skillet, which is intercut with the men’s ongoing conversation. In effect, Evrenol is marinating the film’s bait, priming these dickheads for their slaughter, and toying with the necessity of both character likability and narrative exposition. Likewise, a subsequent, extended sequence of the men driving and dancing inside their police van to several pop-electronic tracks prolongs the tease, situating Baskin as a carnival of movement, sound, and, processional slaughter.
Can Evrenol’s film mostly functions as a tour of familiar horror tropes for much of its running time.
Like Greg McLean’s Wolf Creek before it, Baskin’s first half is designed to distract the viewer from an impending bloodbath, as the looming threat doesn’t announce itself until much later. In fact, Baba remains unseen until nearly two-thirds of the way through, at which point the film gleefully fixates on the ghoulie torturing each cop one by one. The film mostly functions as a tour of familiar horror tropes for much of its running time, with Evrenol’s preference for juxtaposed tones and prolonged sequences of bloodletting marking his bid to become one of horror cinema’s resident DJs. Which is to say that he seems to have little on his mind besides guiding the film toward its most fucked-up potential. Thematically, Baskin is utterly bankrupt, with the childhood trauma of Arda (Gorkem Kasal), the most vulnerable of the cops, being the only attention given to a character’s past.
The film retrospectively unfolds as a showcase for Baba, who Evrenol clearly hopes will become a franchise-worthy killer, joining the roster of Jason, Jigsaw, Freddy, Michael, and Pinhead as a gorehound’s preferred slayer of one-dimensional, wrong-place-at-the-wrong-time victims. Evrenol has indeed proffered a memorable demon, one capable of delivering bizarrely splattered goods, but after the blood dries and the brains are mopped up, Baskin has only its creative depiction of disembowelment to show for its troubles.