Tuesday, March 22, 2016

Baskin (2015) opens Friday and it will F-you up

A waking nightmare of a film concerns a group of five police officers who answer a call for back up and find that they have literally walked into hell. I would argue, other than the final ten seconds one of the years best films.

This dream like film is forever circling back on itself, either via locations, a fragmented narrative, motifs (visual, verbal and otherwise) or some other way. What we think is a throw away line or story comes roaring back in some demonic form later on. Its like being caught in a giant loop of destiny where all roads lead to destruction.

The nominal frame work of a bunch of cops stopping for a meal before heading home, only to get a call for help is on the face of it straight forward. However what director Can Evrenol does is to fill the simplest thing with a real sense of dread. The opening fifteen minutes where the cops are sitting and waiting for their dinner is incredibly creepy and tense despite nothing really happening. Its basically guys being loud and bawdy. However through the use of lights (reds and blues) and the manipulation of the soundtrack noises and music, he creates a sense of guys being in a place they really shouldn't be. We don't know where the guys are going but already we know they are doomed. Evrenol masterfully sets up a call and echo motif that carries through the entire film.

Once the men get on the road things become more surreal. Reality and our world logic disappears for what is a dream or nightmare logic. Events play over again, we are back in the restaurant as the new recruit talks to his boss about weighty issues, only to be drawn back to the now which gets more and more filled with weird images. The effect is to ratchet up our feeling of discomfort and fear. Nothing much has happened but we know hell, literally, is on it's way. The sense of pained anticipation is unlike any recent film.

Eventually the men reach an old police station. The car of the men they are supposed to be supporting is outside and what they don't know is that hell is on the inside.

From this point on the film get rather graphic with images and sensations that will burn themselves into your brain. I'm not going to say what happens, though I would argue that the reviews that have compare what we find to the cinematic worlds of SILENT HILL or Clive Barker are largely incorrect. While there are similarities BASKIN kind of scores over them in that the things we see and experience here are much more real,much more tactile. As one character says Hell is in each one of us and it's true. The horrors here are real world and not as fantastical as SILENT HILL or HELLRAISER.

While I suspect that what transpires in the final half hour is going to divide the audience, some people have called it torture porn, while other have not like the shift away from pure visceral dream to something more grounded,  I think it ups the ante and makes this a much more challenging film and one that is very much deserving of praise. The laying out of the philosophy of what we are seeing is what makes this film so disturbing. The things we are seeing are not random acts of torture, ala torture porn, but something more sinister. The only thing I can compare it all too is the original French version of MARTYRS which plays as torture  porn until you realize that there is a reason we are seeing all of these terrible things. To be honest we never really find out what all of the reasons are, nor do we understand why certain things are done (to the point the horror forums are going to be full of lengthy discussions) but at the same time we can see and feel that there is a reason for what we seeing which makes it even more fucked up.

To be honest this is probably one of the best films of 2016. I could and will argue its full force assault on our senses and logic make this a truly great film, but at the same time that doesn't mean I won't warn you that the film pushes the looping and dream logic too far and the film ends ten seconds too late with something happening that breaks the spell. Thankfully the end credits come up so we don't quite get the chance to deflate as much as we would had the film gone on any longer. Its a minor flaw but it has me wavering as to how great the film is over all.

The film hit theaters and VOD Friday and is an absolute must for anyone who likes horror and doesn't mind being deeply deeply disturbed.

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