Friday, 24 June 2016


For a long time the horror genre was dominated by American filmmakers, with the odd low-budget Brit flick thrown in here and there. This is only to be expected, USA's Hollywood is the hub of the movie industry.
However, in recent years that has changed. First, back in the Nineties, Japanese horror flicks made their way to Western audiences, no doubt fuelled by Hideo Nakata's Ringu, which in turn opened the door for other Asian nations such as Thailand. This occurred around the same time that  a sudden influx of Australian and New Zealand horror, such as Peter Jackson's early work and later, Wolf Creek.
Soon our European neighbours were also getting in on the act, from France's Extreme horrors, such as Martyrs, to Scandinavian chillers such as Cold Prey, Thale and the spectacular Troll Hunter.
More recently still Western audiences have been tipped off to the wealth of quality horror titles being produced in Turkey, such as the terrifying Siccin.
One such title to make waves recently is Can Evrenol's short film BaskinThe reception this short received was so good that studios then approached him to expand it into a feature length title. Following a highly-successful limited cinema run, the movie will be released in the UK on DVD, Blu-ray and On-Demand in just a few weeks.
Expect a review of the movie very soon, but to prepare you for that release I'm going to talk you through one of the most spine-chilling and disturbing short films of recent years.

BASKIN (2013)

Dir: Can Evrenol and Ogulcan Eren Akay
Starring: Muharrem Bayrak, Gorkem Kasai, Aydin Orak, Remzi Pamukcu, Fadik Bülbül

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here but read on at your own risk.

Late one night a van full of Turkish policemen receive a call on their radio to deal with an incident at a nearby, run-down block of flats.
Heading to their destination it soon becomes clear that this is no ordinary bust. Following a bloody welcome they work their way into the building where fellow officers, escorting decidedly ragged and disturbing looking suspects out, inform them that they've raided a coven of satanists in the middle of a dark ritual.
As the officers fan out through the building they bear witness to a number of nightmarish incidents such as blood-soaked, black magic rites and an encounter with the terrifying Mother (Fadik Bülbül) that begs the question: who is really hunting who?

WHY IT WORKS: Can Evrenol, and his co-director Ogulcan Eren Akay, are directors with real vision and it is the nightmarish imagery throughout that makes Baskin so spine chilling. The atmosphere they create with subtly uncomfortable camera angles and a sublime use of darkness is horrifying — it is entirely understandable how studio executives, upon watching this film, would have seen such tremendous potential in the filmmaker. 
At a mere 11 minutes Baskin isn't given a long time in which to work its creepy magic, so it's a testament to the directors that they are able to cultivate serious tension and suspense.
The pacing of Evrenol's story is superb, taking the time to slowly reveal its horrors before swiftly and mercilessly ratcheting up the intensity towards the climax, something aided even further by the twisted visuals. There is not a single wasted second in this lean, mean psychological horror flick.
The story itself is a simple, no-thrills affair — think The Raid meets Event Horizon and Rosemary's Baby by way of Hellraiser and REC — and this simplicity works very much in its favour.
Our leads including the impressive Bayrak and Kasai, who star in the feature-length take on the story are all solid, and act as the audience's eyes as we share in their experience within the hellish apartment block. There's no extraneous exposition, no long, drawn-out backstory to explain the events. The mysteries of what is happening within the building remain exactly that, even if hints are given throughout the hair-raising encounters of our outmatched cops. 
It shows remarkable restraint on the filmmakers' part and definitely works in the short's favour, encouraging viewers to fill in the gaps with their imagination. With shadowy, writhing bodies and twitching sacks, plus plenty of grisly goings-on in the darkness, it is up to us to interpret what we've seen... and in the most terrifying manner possible.
I've mentioned the imagery of the film but it really does bear repeating — Baskin (which means 'raid' or 'attack' in Turkish) lives up to its name, feeling like something of an assault on the eyes at times. The dark and delapidated set is haunting, the design even more so as chains, hooks, plastic sheets, bloodstains and surreal, frightening graffiti adorn the walls, all bathed in a Fulci-esque striking colour palette by talented cinematographer Alp Korfali. With deep greens that offer a strong contrast with the red of the grue and gore, it's frighteningly good. 
I raved about the truly scary Mother, as portrayed by Bülbül, earlier for good reason. Dripping with gore, matted hair draped around her blindfolded face, she is at once arresting and scary, bolstered by a fearless performance that sees this character become instantly iconic. Combine this with plenty of bloody body parts, a chilling cameo by Mehmet Cerrahoglu (Father in the feature) and genuinely unsettling more subtle frights, and you get one of the best horror shorts I've ever had the pleasure to review here at The House.  
An absolute must-see.

SO WHERE'S IT AT? Rumours persist that the Baskin short will feature as an extra on the Blu-Ray release. Until then you can check out the trailer for the short right here.

10 WORD WRAP-UP: Stylish Turkish short depicts a genuinely unnerving descent into Hell

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Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

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