At Frightfest many moons ago a Turkish horror short entitled Baskin blew me away.
The sick and simple flick showed a van of police sent out to a call in a seemingly abandoned house, which they find upon entering to be filled with all manner of disturbing and disgusting monsters and mayhem.
Amazingly engaging the fear and tension it created in such a brief amount of time was immense and it is no wonder that its creator Can Evrenol soon after secured the funds to transform his mini masterpiece into a feature released 2 years later.
Taking the same shape the long version follows 5 cops including rookie Arda (Gorkem Kasal) called out in the midnight hours to a rundown police station long since deserted in a part of town steeped in folklore and hushed tones of terror.
Drawn inside even after many petrifying portents before they even arrive the police soon find themselves in the midst of a black mass and caught up in the chaos and confusion become captured by a hooded figure who Arda and his boss have been seeing all through the night.
It may come as a shock that many great movies from District 9, This Is The End, The Evil Dead and Saw started out life as shorts, titled Alive in Joburg, Jay & Seth vs. The Apocalypse, Within The Woods and Saw respectively, and the medium is a great place for directors to prove their style and vision to audiences and producers alike.
A short film is also the perfect place to showcase a simple idea in an effective and succinct way and that is both the beauty and curse of the art form as when it comes to expanding that concept sometimes there is simply nowhere else to go and that is sadly the case in Baskin.
What was a brutal and brilliant short which still stays in my mind today is transformed into a meandering and pretentious feature with a longwinded and at times tedious build up that leads to a pale recreation of the previous pain and bizarre bedlam slopping off to an unsatisfactory ending that fails to illuminate anything that we have experienced.
The characters are also extremely unlikable preventing any real potential for identification with them or their situation and as The Father, the demonic head of the satanic cult the cops mistakenly stumble upon, Mehmet Cerrahoglu fails to inspire dread swaying between pompous histrionics and cartoon villainy.
Yes its gory, yes its nasty and yes some of the visuals are still shockingly surreal and unsettling however Baskin’s power as a full length film is exceedingly diminished compared to the tightly shot psychotropic nightmare I witnessed all those years ago presented in the perfect short film package.
It’s a pity but extending Baskin simply doesn’t work and what was an original and superbly successful horror short is lost, stretched out of proportion and sandwiched in this remake with derivative padding, clichéd set pieces and meaningless ostentatious monologues.
If you haven’t seen Can Evrenol’s original perhaps you will get more from Baskin than I did and see past my many misgivings and doubts but to me all it proves is that sometimes the best horror really does come in small packages.