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Baskin: Blurred (Genre) Vision from Turkey

Baskin

By Sotiris Petridis.

Baskin (2015), the directorial feature film debut of Can Evrenol, is a modern Turkish horror film that deserves the attention of every horror aficionado, even if from a less likely country of origin. The film is based on Evrenol’s 2013 short film, which shares the same title (Baskin in Turkish means raid or attack). Here five policemen, answering a call for backup, enter an abandoned building where a bizarre Satanic ritual is being held. The distress begins when the group stumbles upon a black mass insde. Arda (Gorkem Kasal), the film’s protagonist, is an orphan under the guardianship of Chief Remzi (Ergun Kuyucu).

Baskin is a hybrid of a plethora of cinematic subgenres. It incorporates surreal elements in which the main characters travel to hell through a non-linear narrative, images of sliced flesh of the slasher film when the main characters are butchered and killed, the supernatural essence of a demonic film that exists in the representation of the character the “Father”, and bloodshed of the gore tradition while the main characters are tortured. The group also has encounters with some strange frog hunters, before they arrive at the building stemming from Ottoman times. As this sounds, the search-meets-terror conceit offers a scattershot array of horror troupes, while on several occasions, we flashback in the coffee shop where Arda and Remzi talk of the supernatural and of dreams of the dead.

One of the most interesting things about this horror film is the all-male cast. Usually, we link horror films with female characters that are chased and slaughtered by the dark characters of the narrative. In this film, both the protagonist and the victims are all male and, even if they are represented as dynamic and active, they all end up tortured and killed by the “Father,” the head of the sacrificial rituals. The only women here are part of the zombie-like rituals.

Arda, who passes a “test” by the Father, is a Turkish version of the slasher-style’s “Final Boy.” While the others are represented as more aggressive and with delinquent behavior, Arda stand out character allows him to take the role. After passing the test, Arda walks out of the Hell entirely covered in blood and making the audience believe that he is the one that survived after all. But in a story twist, Arda walks in the middle of the road and then his squad van hits him, with the audience realizing that he is the mysterious figure in the road from earlier. This twist creates a circular narrative and adds surrealism to the horror conceits.

The film has deservedly appeared in numerous festivals festivals, including Toronto International Film Festival, Austin Fantastic Fest, and Sitges Film Festival, securing possible future genre assignments for Evrenol. Every horror fan would enjoy Baskin for its story, the gore images and its chiaroscuro cinematography that creates an ideal atmosphere.

Sotiris Petridis is a Ph.D. Candidate in Film Studies at Aristotle University of Thessaloniki, Greece, and has been awarded a scholarship from Onassis Foundation for his studies. He is currently teaching Film Theory and Television History at Aristotle University as part of his doctoral studies. Contact: sotospetridis@yahoo.gr.

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