The story seems straightforward when summarised but Baskin bursts from its concept trappings into genre-bending delirium. Cops get called to investigate a disturbance at a dilapidated mansion only to stumble upon, and get entangled in, an active Black Mass. This general gist is all viewers need to know, as Baskin is best experienced as raw as possible. Evrenol’s visual palette mends the crimson, gothic blotches of Argento with the gruelling bloodshed of Bava/ Fulci and Winding Refn’s visual élan. Mangled with the styles of Clive Barker, Ken Russell, Peter Greenaway and Jodorowsky, Evrenol’s film arises as distinct and mesmeric as the films of those who inspired him, but it is also touched with tender moments and mordant comedy which slightly lights the eternal darkness.
A cheery police van sing-along to a Turkish pop song is amusing along with some of the questionable cop anecdotes about transsexuals and bestiality, while its main characters are all of a dubious nature. Chief Remzi (Ergun Kuyucu) is warped and sleazy while new recruit Arda (Gorkem Kasal) shows signs of being swayed into his new colleagues’ mentality. The cops are conveniently crafted to get what’s coming to them. They are also entertaining and brought to life with panache by wonderful performances but it’s Mehmet Cerrrahoglu who resounds the most as Black Mass leader Baba/The Father.
Alluring imagery coerces, while blenching antics, sexual deviancy and socket snogging may make those lesser desensitised hanker for a sick bag and bible. Ulas Pakkan’s score pounds like the footsteps of Hans Zimmer (cradling Trent Reznor), which augments the horror with an apt and thumping vigour. There’s a slight dip in the story when the cops dither in the house for a little too long , just before the monsters show up. When they do, all hell breaks loose and Baskin blossoms into a warped, unruly and mind-grinding masterpiece.
Distended monsters, abrupt gore blasts and smelted grand guignol backdrops go some way to lather dread while scenes featuring plucked eyes, frogs, urine and mutant goat-headed somethings are hurled into the gumbo. Baskin is one of a very few Turkish films ever to be acquired for distribution in the US (by IFC Midnight) but is clearly not for everyone. Many will be bamboozled by the onslaught of gore and distorted imagery but those twisted few more partial to the madness will be pleasantly surprised, because Baskin is that rare, uncompromising beast: an invigorating genre distortion that defies convention.
Baskin baffles and bedazzles before blistering into a masterpiece and will undoubtedly upset a few stomachs (and possibly Catholics too).