Baskin (2015): Hard Hitting Turkish Horror (Review)

Baskin screenshot

Baskin is a film that could well give the viewer nightmares.  Directed and co-written by Can Evrenol (This is his first feature length film.) this 2015 hard hitting horror is a longer version of the 2013 short film. 

The film follows five cops who end up answering a call for backup at a local hotspot of trouble and disturbing folklore.  Baskin starts out paying homage to Scorese’s Goodfellas. In a direct reference to the “Joe Pesci” scene with the kid waiter, one of the cops upbraids the waiter for laughing.

It ends in violence.

One of the officers gets sick and rushes to the toilet to throw up, he then looks at himself in the mirror and begins screaming.  His comrades join him and calm the man down. As they drive away from the eatery, the men sing to a song on the radio.

A call for backup signifies a change in the tone of the film and everything turns decidedly strange. After wrecking the van, the men arrive at their destination and stumble into a Black Mass.

It is there that the film really takes off.  While there are a lapses in logic and storyline, the imagery is horrifying.  The acts of mindless violence, all perpetrated by the bald leader, is disturbing and not a little sickening.

Similar to Tod Browning’s Freaks Evrenol apparently opts to use actors with real deformities.  The decision  means that the scenes “hurt” the eyes, making it difficult to focus for too long on any of the “followers.”

There are things that, seemingly, make no real sense. The presence of frogs comes across as random and non-related to later events. At the eatery, where the van driver rushes to the restroom, a frog is in either a sink or urinal. The man is disturbed and he brushes the frog away.

Later, after the van crash, the police officers stumble across a group of homeless people. There is a tin bucket full of frogs and the ground littered with groups of the things ululating  and thrashing about. The amphibious creatures are disgusting in appearance and seem to generate a sort of muddy mucous that they slither and crawl in.

This appears to be a portent of things to come once the cops reach the building.

A young rookie is along for this patrol and his backstory is shown, twice.  At the start of the picture and later when the young man recounts a disturbing event in his childhood.  Evrenol fails to  piece everything together satisfactorily but overall it matters little once the police arrive at the “gate to Hell.”

The actors all do well in the film. Gorkem Kasal makes the rookie Arda a likable young man. Fatih Dokgöz is Apo the group’s leader who is not as nice as he appears. All the performers recreated their roles from the short version of Baskin.

Any lapses in storyline can be forgiven as once the film enters its second half all bets are off. The imagery is disturbing as are the horrific things the bald man does to his newest captives.

Baskin is listed as one of the first horror films to come out of Turkey. It is a splendid start and Can Evrenol has proven that he is quite proficient in this genre.

This is a 3.5 star horror film, it loses a lot for lapses in logic, but despite its few flaws, Baskin does its job. It is a hard hitting horror film that probably should not be watched alone…in the dark. It is streaming on Netflix at the moment.  Give it  a look, but invite a friend first.

Blindspot: Scientists Hollow Fortune – Swimming the River Styx (Review)

After the previous week’s rooftop conversation Blindspot: Scientists Hollow Fortune takes things further with Jane agreeing to swap pens with Mayfair.

Blindspot - Season 1

After the previous week’s rooftop conversation Blindspot: Scientists Hollow Fortune takes things further with Jane agreeing to swap pens with Mayfair. Meanwhile an Airborne solder is found wandering outside a base. When he is finally brought in, he claims to have swum the River Styx and escaped from Hell.

After the FBI capture the man, but not before he shoots  five men down, they learn he is full of “zip” the same chemical compound used to erase Jane’s memory.  The soldier turns out to be one Sergeant Charlie Napier who was declared KIA after stepping on an IED.  The Sergeant’s name is also tattooed on Jane’s body.

The “dead” soldier has a lot of  other chemicals in his body as well as the zip.  As a result, according to Patterson,  the combination keeps the G.I. in a constant state of fight or flight. After reuniting Napier with his mother, the soldier remembers more things about his escape.  One of which is that he “saw the face of God” and that He told Charlie to escape.

Patterson reveals that Napier’s name is not the only one on Jane’s body. Four other soldiers names and ranks are tattooed on her body as well. All five soldiers have been declared dead, from an IED explosion. After the she shares the information Mayfair expresses concern at Patterson’s well being but the tech states that work is what she needs.

After Charlie’s emotional reunion with his mother  the Army CID swoops in and takes him away. Jane challenges the act and Mayfair orders her to stand down. Patterson finds a pattern in the names on Jane’s body. All were declared dead by the same private military contractor.

Weller’s team start tracking down information for locations where the contractors may own property and which one Napier escaped from. Meanwhile, Napier’s military CID  escort is attacked and his guards are all killed. Charlie is taken by the attackers.

Following the clues, Weller, Jane, Zapata and Reade find the building where Napier escaped. Before then, Charlie is brought to the facility and he is the only one of the five soldiers to survive the tests. A doctor, Lindsay Sparacino (Jenna Stern) welcomes Napier back as technicians busily destroy evidence. 

By the time that Weller and the other arrive, the other four soldiers are dead, Napier is missing and Patterson finds a partial video file. The doctor appears to be going rogue to sell the chemical compound that Napier is on to the highest bidder.

The team track Napier down to a self-storage facility. After an intense shoot out, they rescue the soldier who runs. Jane tries to bring him in but  the two fight. Napier overpowers her and as he begins choking her Weller appears and shoots the drugged up soldier dead.

Throughout this episode Jane has more flashbacks, one of which shows her enduring military training while a drill instructor bullies her to quit.  Weller finally faces his father issues and has an emotional reconciliation with the man accused of killing “Jane” all those years ago.

Blindspot - Season 1
Ashley Johnson as Patterson

Patterson, once again, proves herself to be a crucial member of Weller’s team and despite the stress of her boyfriends death and the investigation into her conduct, the woman rules supreme in the lab and out.

Ultimately Jane swaps the pen although it looks like she may have “faked it.”  She asks her contact to tell her what Orion is. Thus far, viewers know that the dead CIA man Carter called it an operation and that he was prepared to kill to keep it a secret. Mayfair also  knew of Orion and when pressed, Jane’s contact tells her it was where she died.

As ominous as this sounds, it could mean something similar to Charlie’s story. Napier was declared dead and this could be what is meant by Jane’s death. Preview show the inspector who wanted to suspend Patterson is back on the warpath and it appears that no one is safe.

Blindspot continues to challenge itself and ascend past the tattoos as it solves little bits of the puzzles on Jane’s body. At the same time the Taylor Shaw connection is still hovering in the background, Well’s storyline with his father for instance, and the question still remains as to just how much Jane was really responsible for her condition.

One wonders if Jane had to swim the River Styx to escape from her own Hell and if this was why she agreed to have her memories erased and the tattoos put on her body. Only time will tell as more flashbacks appear in each new episode.

Kudos to the director and stunt coordinator for making the running shoot-out in the storage facility so impressive. Tight, intense and brilliantly paced,  this was a highlight of the episode and one of the best firefights of the series.

Blindspot airs Tuesdays  on NBC and provides some pretty clever writing and intense acting. This is addictive viewing that should not be missed.