Turkish director Can Evrenol's debut feature "Baskin" starts out as a gamy cop thriller then takes a hard right turn into horror. The pacing is slack and the splatter excessive, but this twisted cross-genre exercise should be red meat to gore-hounds.
Gorkem Kasal stars as Arda, a green rookie suffering the hazing of his night-shift squad-mates. When a call for backup goes awry, Arda finds himself trapped in a network of tunnels in the middle of nowhere. There he finds a Satanic cult conducting gruesome rituals involving torture, dismemberment and forced sodomy.
After a spooky prologue, Evrenol spends much of the first half of "Baskin" making a chatty "Goodfellas"/"Reservoir Dogs"-style drama about tough guys trying to impress each other. Once the cops descend into hell (perhaps literally), all the talking gives way to stabbing and chopping as the film becomes relentlessly brutal.
"Baskin" might be intolerably blood-soaked were it not for Evrenol's sense of style, which rests halfway between Italian suspense masters Dario Argento and Lucio Fulci and high-fantasy filmmakers Peter Jackson and Ridley Scott. Evrenol also coaxes a memorable performance out of the striking-looking Mehmet Cerrahoglu, who plays the eerily calm leader of the subterranean cult.
"Baskin" won't be for everybody, but it's well made and imaginatively upsetting. It's the kind of movie in which a pile of human eyeballs is only about the 10th-most disgusting image.
No rating. In Turkish with English subtitles.
Running time: 1 hour, 37 minutes.
Playing: Arena Cinema, Hollywood.