A mostly successful feature horror debut from Turkey
Baskin comes from a country for which horror genre outings are quite atypical to see. Despite not having much to compare with locally, it is clearly a passionate and well-made horror even when examined against countries that contribute to the genre much more frequently. Not terrific, but a great start to a young filmmaker's career.
The film is about a set of five cops who are patrolling their neighbourhood at night. They receive a call for backup coming from a part of town associated with many fantastic and far-fetched story. Upon entering it, they find themselves in a place none other than Hell.
I was quite entranced by Can Evrenol's direction, it was surprisingly confident for a first feature, daring to aim for difficult scenes and set-ups right off the bat. The opening 15 minutes in the restaurant were my favourites. They use numerous very long, very slow takes, which captured a sense of slow building dread despite the hilarious conversation going on between the cops. His flair for beauty and the abstract persists later on as well, especially in scenes where he combines multiple perceptions of reality (loved the room filling up with water). I am definitely a fan of his after seeing this movie.
I do think that the first third of the film is its strongest, because oh the sense of undefined dread. Once the cops enter "hell", the movie is still entertaining but becomes more of a torture-porn outing, without that much story. I like the reference to the mythological hellish trials and tribulations from Greek mythology, but I would have preferred a stronger plot. The circular reference of the film kind of bothered me, because it is an extremely common trope of "characters in limbo/hell" movies (like House Hunting, Haunter, etc), and I would have liked to see something more original.
The acting was quite fantastic for the budget. All of the cops did a great job, the likable ones managed to be truly likable, the hateable ones easily made themselves repulsive to the viewer. The physically "unique" actor who played the master of the hell domain was very creepy and good in his role, with zero prosthetics to boot! Great casting choice.
Overall, Baskin could have used improvements in terms of storytelling, but it is absolutely worth seeing as a piece of horrific art, morbidly beautiful to watch. 7/10
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