Here we are, starting a new series in which I’ll be taking a look at some random movies that went overlooked or are just plain unknown.
Most of the movies I’ll be watching and talking about are foreign (as in non-American), therefore I hope you don’t mind reading subtitles! Obviously, these are all going to be films that I highly recommend, so check them out if you’re intrigued by what you are going to read. Starting off with…
Baskin (Turkey, 2015, directed by Can Evrenol) revolves around five Turkish police officers who receive an emergency call from a secluded location and go check out what the fuss is all about. On their way, they get into a terrible car accident which, anyway, happens not too far from the mansion they were headed to. When they enter the unsettling mansion, all hell breaks loose (literally).
First of all, this film runs for 90 minutes or so and never once gets dull or boring. This is particularly impressive considering that the first part of Baskin purely serves as character development: the five cops are presented with their flaws, backgrounds, desires, perversions and so on. This aspect is, unfortunately overlooked in many American horror films (whereas is a key concept in Asian cinema) and it’s refreshing to have well-rounded characters to relate to or hate on.
The director, who based Baskin on a short of the same name he made back in 2013, is capable of inserting some conflict between the characters and unsettling imagery within this part of the movie, so that it connects seamlessly with the actions that take place into the mansion.
Which are awesome! As soon as the police officers enter the house, a feeling of dread and fear captures both the characters and the audience. The atmosphere prepares you for the worst which, eventually, happens giving the viewer an hour or so of pure intense, scary and disturbing ride.
Part of that has to do with what appears to be a satanic cult that’s having rituals of sorts in the mansion. I found the exploration of the cult aspect truly enthralling and deeply unsettling, mostly due to the practical effects and makeup work. The cult leader, however, steals the show with a shivers-inducing performance that can’t be forgotten!
Yet, from a technical standpoint, Baskin benefits from great production values and locations. The cinematography and lighting are also fantastic; the camera-work, although not per se bad, is quite formulaic and repetitive, since it utilises mostly steady shots and dull framing.
Although I was really impressed by Baskin, there is a trademark of the movie which bothered me quite a bit. In order to tackle this issue, though, I must go into some minor spoiler, so just stop reading if you don’t want anything to be spoiled by me and just go watch the movie!
Spoiler warning – spoiler warning – spoiler warning – spoiler warning
Baskin constantly tries to be a smart film, saturated by symbolism; however, this aspect falls short because many of the hints given throughout the movie are never picked up or explored again in the end. It’s a shame, since it seems the director didn’t know what he wanted to say with his film.
Maybe I just didn’t get it, but I read into the movie, made some research and tried to come up with an explanation… unsuccessfully.
Now, I get that the mansion is a metaphor for hell and that’s very well explained by a few allegories, but there are so many other patterns that don’t lead to anywhere! For instance, what does the ending mean? Does it have a point? Also, what’s up with all the frogs?
Seriously, frogs seem to have a fundamental part in this movie but their on-screen presence is never explained. Don’t get me wrong, I hate one a movie thinks the audience is dumb and in need of being spoon-fed, but I also require that things make sense after reading into and analysing them.
Still, Baskin is a very good film and it would be great (like, seriously awesome) without the ‘pretentious’ stuff it tries to tell.
I will give it a 7.5/10!