Thursday, March 24, 2016

BASKIN: Can Evrenol's Turkish horror film (in more ways than one) makes theatrical debut

Your first question -- once you calm down your vomit response and slide back into normalcy as this very ghastly, ghoulish horror/slasher/fantasy frolic ends -- might be, "So who is BASKIN, the person, place, thing or idea for which this new Turkish movie was presumably christened? Tell you one thing: It sure as hell ain't Baskin Robbins. Directed (and co-written along with three other screenwriters) by Can Evrenol, who is shown below, the film begins with that evergreen scene in which a young child, in this case a pretty little boy, hears his parents going at it in the bedroom and of course can't help but wonder what is taking place. Before he can find out, the scene turns into something out of a horror movie.

Cut to a coffee-house/restaurant in which a bunch of Turkish cops are bantering and making with the faggot jokes and generally behaving so very badly that you quickly realize you're not going to care what awful stuff happens to these creeps. It does end up as pretty awful, and yes, you don't care much -- even though one of those cops turns out to be the adult version of that pretty little boy. The first sign that something is amiss takes place in the restroom, as one cop, below, sees a frog and goes a little "off."

Frogs turn out to be a continuing motif here, so of course we think biblical plagues and such. Later other worse things also point a bit toward the Bible or maybe the Quran, or simply something mythic and not very nice. However, if your are someone who wants explanation with his horror, give it up now. You're mostly going to get circularity, hand-held camerawork that makes you think you've seen something scary, little actual "plot," and finally a whole bunch of torture, gore and glop.

Our cop buddies go out on a call, or maybe it's a mission, or anyway something that takes them into the "old dark house." Along the way they meet some odd gypsy types (frog hunters!), a few "service" people, and our pretty boy cop and his older mentor have some flashbacks that explain little but serve to connect the movie enough so that we don't throw up our hands and say "fuck you."

Along the way there is a lot of atmosphere, a little up-chucking now and again and some very interesting special effects, the best of which seems original and has to do with a little man drowning and being rescued by a huge pair of hands. There is also much sleight-of-hand visual stuff that lets our imagination do the work.

What's it all about? Well, sex and death and sex and violence. (Will we ever again see some sex and fun?) Beyond that there is some mumbo-jumbo from a fellow identified in the credits as "Baba/The Father (played by one, Mehmet Cerrahoglu, making a memorable debut). I found myself wondering if maybe the movie might stand for the state of the Turkish nation today? Or could it be some nasty karmic payback for the Armenian genocide? Or could this be the Turkish idea of hell? ("You carry hell with you at all times," that Baba guy intones at one point.)

Your guess, should you see this movie, will be as good as mine. Maybe it's all just a dream. Oh, wait: It's actually real. Or, as one cop tell another, "Not everything has a clear answer."  Baskin does have a certain creepy, all-stops-out craziness. And also a lot of slo-mo that extends the movie well past its sell-by point. Finally it seems as much an endurance test as anything else. The end credits, however, are artful and beautifully rendered.

From IFC Midnight and running a too-long 97 minutes, Baskin opens theatrically tomorrow, Friday, March 25, in New York City at the IFC Center (for midnight showings only). In Los Angeles, look for it at the Arena Cinema come Friday, April 1. For those of you not living on either coast, the movie is also simultaneously being made available via VOD.

No comments: