Disclaimer: I am a movie review virgin (I guess this will be the only time I’ll be able to say that). As such, I have absolutely no idea how much of the story you can/should reveal in a review. So just assume that I am spoiling the entire movie in this short diatribe.
A gore-fest to join the ranks of Martyrs, Hostel, and Saw? A creepy ghost story with marauding souls? A man with a dark gift and special purpose? A time warp tale with looping stories? Baskin might be one of these things. Or all of them. To be honest, I have no idea which. And that is the film’s biggest weakness.
The tale follows a fivesome of police officers as they respond to a backup call in a neighboring Turkish town. “Baskin” itself means “police raid,” and the story is built around their arriving at a demented abandoned structure in the middle of the woods.
Before we get to that raid, we have extended build-up involving a few flashbacks (or are they?), a cafe pissing match instigated by the police crew’s resident jackass, a bathroom freakout, and car trouble. During this hour-long primer all the film’s key feelers are laid out: red lights, bloody limbs, bestiality references, creepy man in cloak, and dreams about seeing spirits.
There are many moments to love in the movie including my favorite: A-not-so-manly-dance-party-singalaong-inside-a-moving-police-van. Be honest, we all thought something horrible was going to happen during that moment of joy. The crew was exuding pure happiness, but I was on the edge of my seat. My eyes flickering everywhere trying to figure out where the bad was going to come from.
There isn’t much outright horror or gore until the last 30 minutes of the film. They arrive at the death building and chaos ensues. The first half of the trek inside the building was the best. We see flickers of light, corpses, and, eventually, living sex minions. Covered in blood, faces shrouded in matted hair. They converge on the crew, catch them, and set the stage for ritualized something-or-other. These hordes were my favorite part of the film, as the primal nature of sex was a key theme throughout. Not a sexy type of sex, but a raw sex. An animalistic drive. It was real and horrifying.
Overall, two aspects of the movie left me wanting more. First, the characters seem a little flat. We are not given any reason to actually care about what happens to them. In fact, it’s easy to root against them (especially if you are naturally inclined to be suspicious of “police conduct”). The key relationship in the film, between a veteran officer and the rookie, is undeveloped. They presumably have a father-son dynamic, but we don’t truly feel that relationship. We only know it because of a quick conversation in the middle of the film.
My biggest issue, however, was the roving story itself. I love slashers, snarky cheese-fests, and monster tales. Psycho cinema can take many forms. But my absolute favorite horror films are those that try for something more–a unique, twisty, spooky story. I’m a “story” guy. Baskin tries to do that. It deserve praise for attempting it. But it didn’t fully succeed. Too many unanswered questions. Either that, or it was so revolutionary that the connecting ties went over my head. I’m no film scholar, so the latter may certainly be true.
I have no problem with films that don’t finish everything with a neat bow. Mystery, debate, and speculation can make for fantastic films (See: Donnie Darko, not the Director’s Cut). But there may be a point where too much is left open, resulting in sheer confusion. And the confusion doesn’t feel intentional in Baskin. It seems like there is one specific point that was being made, but I couldn’t figure it out. Perhaps this is one where we need a Director’s Cut to restore a few edits that help give the final push a little more clarity.
Unanswered questions and unfinished ideas:
- What was the actual timeline?
- What was the point of the bathroom freakout by the officer with the headache?
- Who were the creepsters and what the hell were they actually doing? Devil worship? Just evil souls from Hell? We have no idea.
- Key in the forehead? I’m assuming it’s pure symbolism, but what it symbolized was lost on me.
- Did the people in the woods (who pulled them out of the water) actually have any purpose in forwarding the plot?
- What on earth did the tangle-of-scum baby birth mean?
Am I glad I saw the film? Absolutely. Should you see it? Absolutely. And if you do, be sure to let me know what the hell was actually going on.