Well here's a movie that has had its fair amount of hype. The trailer looked really interesting, and I've always had a great fondness for international horror – old favourites from these pages have included the French Martyrs, Germany's Cannibal, Australia's The Loved Ones and plenty more besides. But most of the horror movies that have come with a fair amount of pre-release excitement have been deep disappointments – It Follows, The Witch and The Green Inferno have all fallen below 5/10 for me. So I come to Baskin, a recent Turkish horror feature that has received a great reception around the horror circuit and hits UK VOD from this Friday, 24th June.
I could review this in two words really – watch it. Or even one word – yes. Just, yes. Finally, finally, something has actually lived up to – and possibly even exceeded – the hype. Baskin might just be the best thing to happen to horror in a long time – intelligent, surreal, spooky and twisted, this is a concoction of elements I don't think I've ever seen the likes of before.
Baskin follows a group of police officers whose night of socialising is disrupted by a strange emergency call. Initially the cast of characters are not all that likeable, but they do begin to grow on you as the story wears on, so that when they do come under threat you can't help but feel a level of emotional connection with them – something all too often lacking in horror movies of late. The start of the movie is perhaps a bit slow – besides a blistering opening few minutes – but by the time things do begin to pick up on their way to this strange call from their colleagues you're well and truly hooked in. There's plenty goes wrong on the journey alone, and things only go further downhill once they arrive....
It's hard to say exactly what it is that makes Baskin so compelling without delving too much into spoiler territory. There's a backstory that develops, piece by piece, following the youngest of the police group, Arda – the performance from Gorkem Kasal as the junior officer is excellent – and this is combined with a demented, twisted finale that is led by another phenomenal acting display from debutante performer Mehmet Cerrahoglu. It's a heady mixture that, when combined with the surreal visual elements that make this film so hard to peel your eyes away from, is simply intoxicating.
When you go for a look online, there are many comparisons out there to other movies, lots of which have some merit. There are comparisons to the likes of Argento and Fulci, which you can see here with the more unusual aspects of the piece. There was more than a splash of Event Horizon, particularly in the last half hour or so. But none of these supposed connections – nor any others out there – truly do Baskin justice. With an initial slow build and steady character development that would typically be better suited to a traditional ghost story, this one incorporates facets of that with a visceral, twisted imagery and horror that would do justice to almost anything that we've seen here at Film Gutter. Genuinely hard to watch as things well and truly descend into hell, I was breathless by the end of this and left with that all too rare sense of having seen something special in horror.
Forget anything else – if you only decide to watch one horror film this year, make it Baskin. And I say that with every confidence despite the fact we're only half way through 2016 – I simply can't see anyone producing anything better than this.
RATING: 10/10. I'm not sure I've ever seen a Turkish movie at all, yet alone a horror movie from the country. But if they keep turning out work of this kind of quality – or even anything near in – then I can only welcome then to the international scene. Days after watching it, Baskin is still absolutely on my mind, which is surely the mark of a great film more than anything. There was nothing I could genuinely say I didn't like here – great acting, fantastic and original visuals, an incredible authenticity throughout and a twisty, clever plot that kept me guessing all the way to the end. Horror fans, do yourself a favour and see this.