One of my favorite films out of the Toronto International Film Festival was Can Evrenol’s Turkish horror Baskin, which I believe Has cult midnight written all over it.
Baskin is based on a short of the same name. The decision to expand it into a feature can be credited to Hostel and Cabin Fever director Eli Roth!
Said Evrenol: “When Eli Roth watched it at Sitges and asked if I had the feature script for it!”
Baskin sends a squad of unsuspecting cops through a trapdoor to Hell when they stumble upon a Black Mass in an abandoned building.
“[Hell] is not somewhere you go, but carry inside you,” Evrenol explained on his reason as to why Hell interests him, further adding that he believes that “Heaven and Hell are on Earth.”
Hell is a personal interpretation for film, but Evrenol also looked to be inspired by films such as Hellraiser.
“It is in a way a reimagining of ‘Hansel & Gretel,’ just like Texas Chainsaw Massacre is,” he explained. “You wander off, get lost in the woods and end up in somebody’s personal prison. It’s terrifying. Basically we wanted to create the most terrifying situation for our cops – with a minimal budget that is. So once the cops are captured, I thought the scariest thing would be the entrance of ‘a father’ – a twisted authority figure in the most conservative way possible. And what is more conservative than a small family claustrophobia?”
There’s a heavy dramatic component to Baskin that may surprise horror fans. Evrenol explains the development of the characters.
“The idea was to forcefully combine two very different types of film into a single arthouse shocker,” adds Evrenol. “We wanted it to be a serious modern arthouse European/Turkish film, which slowly goes mad and finally becomes hardcore heavy metal gore. These type of movies are rare bıt I’ve always been fond of this concept of an extreme journey. I’m fascinated by genre shifts.
“I’ve always joked that one day I wanted make a bank robbery film where in the last 20 minutes the story is interrupted by an alien invasion. Maybe I will one day…”
There’s spectacular filmmaking in Baskin, with outstanding DP work.
“Baskin is our amazingly talented dop Alp Korfali’s first feature film. Korfali is great with light, color and a general sense of picture. He’s definitely not a horror fan, but he has great taste in art and cinema.
“I wanted Baskin to be a glamorous, surreal and very dark movie. Our visual inspiration was movies like Only God Forgives, Frontiers, Calvaire, It and such… It was a 28-night shoot, with no day shots. We had to be quite mobile, fast and versatile with the camera. Under the circumstances it was Arri Amira that gave us the best test results.”
One issue many have with genre films is shock value. Characters in Baskin literally enter Hell. Shocking is a must. Evrenol knew this from the start explaining, “It was [always] intended to be as shocking as possible.”
The trailer may be a bit misleading, which is why Evrenol wants to make it clear that “Baskin is a micro-budget arthouse shocker” that’s “from a country with zero history of any genre filmmaking with a high-quality production value. It is a slow-burner and very off-beat at times.
He adds: “The trailer is amazing but the paste it suggests may be interpreted much higher than the actual film.”
Baskin was acquired for release through IFC Midnight in 2016. The film’s success could dictate whether or not a sequel is made.
“I’d love to do a sequel if there was demand for it,” Evrenol explains while also revealing, “We already have a synopsis for it.
“It started as a joke but we ended up loving it…”