A Turkish horror movie about a bunch of cops who somehow end up in Hell? Sign me (the hell) up! Except, that’s not really what happens. This is a Turkish Horror film – yep, but one which has more in common with the surreal elements of Lynch and Dali. It follows a bunch of cops, but they’re all assholes. Whether or not they end up in Hell is up for interpretation, like the rest of the movie. Basically I was going in expecting Aliens, but ended up experiencing a cross between Vinyan and Triangle – watch the latter, not the former.
What the balls am I talking about anyway? The opening of the film is promising, evocative of Argento, and of Carpenter’s Prince Of Darkness. A young boy wakes in bed, disturbed by female moans coming from his parents’ bedroom. After creeping through his house, a withered, robed arm emerges from the boy’s bedroom and he screams – standard nightmare fare. The film cuts to what appears to be a remote and rundown restaurant where five policemen are talking about football and their sexual histories. There is a brief altercation with the staff where it becomes apparent that the cops may be abusing their power. Additionally, one of the cops suffers a momentary psychological breakdown. Also; frogs. A call for support comes in from another patrol, and the group heads off in their van to help and on route the group comments on the local lore and spooky stories surrounding the village they are driving to. After a few bumps they reach their destination – which turns out to be their FINAL DESTINATION!
It’s a film of two halves, as the old cliche goes, building up the characters, such as they are, and then throwing them into danger. The second half is clearly the more interesting and vibrant and violent. It’s where the director pulls down his fly and whips out six inches of tricks for his and our pleasure. The ‘Hell’ is almost a Clive Barker vision – from the perspective of mixing pleasure and pain, not of demons. It is a place of madness, inhabited by hooded, savaged, bandaged figures who writhe, fuck, torture, and tear. Director Can Evrenol isn’t outlandish with his visuals, perhaps due to budget constraints than creative preferences, but does lend a memorable darkness and gory finale. The place is a type of Hell, but it could just as easily be a building filled with cult members or good old fashioned movie crazies. What they want is unclear – the script spinning off vague poetry and debauched philosophy. The interesting moments for me are where time becomes loose and the film starts to collapse in upon itself – several characters seem aware of this slippage and the film bounces about between time and space leaving the viewer grasping for solid ground. The chief bad guy hints at fore knowledge of the characters and events and there other multiple hints that the film is only going to end one way – I don’t know if what happens was meant to be a twist as it is a fairly familiar trope which I called out about fifteen minutes before it happened. Still, I do enjoy stories of this nature, where time becomes a toy of some greater force.
Gore fans will flock to this, but it isn’t your standard slasher fare – it does have more in common with the more stylized and artistic films of the 70s and 80s – look to Italy for more famous work, but it doesn’t revel in carnage or come close to the levels of blood letting of recent US hits. The performances are fine too, the only standout being Mehmet Cerrahoglu as the creepy little leader – this is surely partly to do with his appearance as well as his acting ability, though there is some Col. Kurtz channeling in there. It’s a film which will find a cult audience and do well with critics, and it will be good to see where Evrenol can go next – anyone who aims for a unique or, at worst, different from the mainstream, visual and storytelling approach gets my vote, even if those approaches have been witnessed on the genre fringes for decades.
Have you seen Baskin? Let us know in the comments!