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Baskin Review

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Rookie Arda (Gorken Kasal), haunted by a childhood nightmare, is on patrol with a group of variously corrupt cops. Investigating a distress call from a closed rural police station, Arda and company find themselves in an underground limbo at the mercy of a dwarf demon who punishes them with torture.

★★★★★

In a Turkish backwater, five cops – whose idea of a relaxing break is to terrorise a hapless waiter – receive a mysterious call for back-up from a supposedly decommissioned police station. After a road trip blighted by sinister signs – a rain of frogs, apparitions that cause a minor accident, gypies who utter dire warnings – the patrol discover that the old cop shop is a haunted mansion which is also and gateway to hell, where they are captured by demons and suffer the tortures of the damned.

It goes out of its way to shock, with much hanging in chains and carving of flesh.

Director Can Evrenol would obviously like to kickstart a gruesome horror tradition in Turkey, and draws slightly too obviously on vintage horrors from Japan and Italy as well as more recent Euro-shockers like Martyrs and A Serbian Film to give his bad cops a hard time. The long opening sequence is effective and gripping as the camaraderie of a vanload of above-the-law officers turns nasty when a stray victim wanders in range – the guys who sit back and let it happen are almost as disturbing as the psycho bully in the bunch. Then the simple nastiness is interrupted by supernatural shenanigans and the film goes out of its way to shock in Grand Guignol/video-nasty style with much hanging in chains and carving of flesh.

Evrenol first made this as a short, and he’s stretched it to feature length by just adding more horrors when he might have done better to shore up the thin plot. The characters are vividly established, but then become disposable meat puppets – we get to see their insides, but find out so little about them it’s hard to be terrified by their fate or feel that they’re getting what they deserve. The odd-looking Mehmet Cerrahoglu is an unforgettable devil, but it’s a shame he doesn’t have a better showcase.

Grotesque rather than scary and severely underplotted – but certainly strong meat.

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