Five Turkish police officers act like assholes in a quiet restaurant and earn themselves the ire of a sinister hooded figure that may be a gatekeeper to hell. So goes the clumsy set-up of Baskin, Cam Evrenol's bloody horror film that sees unchecked masculinity as the ultimate sin.
We never get to know these cops, who range in age and archetype from the young rookie to the veteran roughneck. But it's clear they are part of a fraternity that frowns upon emotion and vulnerability. A glimmer of sensitivity shines through when the men decide to sing along collectively to a pop song while answering a distress call by other officers from an abandoned building.
In these early moments, when the film refuses to show all of its genre cards, there are moments of intense uncertainty that ring true. But Baskin turns from scary to silly very quickly as the men encounter untold horrors within the walls of the derelict structure.
Here, the film basks in the gory details of dismemberment and disembowelment, putting its characters through torturously prolonged bouts of pain. Evrenol occasionally cuts away to explore the dream state of the youngest officer, whose memory of a childhood trauma comes raging back to the forefront.
But all pretenses aside, Baskin remains your run-of-the-mill torture porn with very little on the mind other than perpetuating reductive shock and awe. The best horror films allude to political or social subtext underneath the carnage, but that's entirely lacking here.
Baskin, which opens Friday, May 13, at the Digital Gym Cinema, opportunistically cashes in on the loaded imagery of nightmares, creating a dumbed down vision of hell covered in dirt and blood. If you're into watching stomachs get ripped open for no reason, then this one's for you. If not, run for the hills.
Baskin: Five Turkish police officers respond to a distress call in the countryside only to experience untold horrors when they discover a gateway to hell. Screens through Thursday, May 19, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
High-Rise: Tom Hiddleston plays a disaffected doctor who encounters societal collapse when he begins living at a newly constructed high-rise on the outskirts of London. Adapted from J.G. Ballard’s 1975 novel.
Last Days in the Desert: Rodrigo Garcia’s biblical epic imagines the 40 days Jesus (Ewan McGregor) spent in the desert fasting and praying.
Money Monster: A talk show host (George Clooney) that specializes in finances is taken hostage by an angry investor (Jack O’Connell) during a live television broadcast of his show.
Our Last Tango: This drama tells the story of two Argentine tango dancers who spent nearly 50 years performing together until a painful separation tore them apart. Screens through Thursday, May 19, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Par
The Family Fang: Jason Bateman and Nicole Kidman star as siblings who must confront the childhood trauma caused by their experimental artist parents. Screens through Thursday, May 19, at the Digital Gym Cinema in North Park.
One Time Only
Love & Mercy: The story of Beach Boy Brian Wilson told during two pivotal points in his tumultuous life. Screens at 6 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at the Chula Vista Civic Center Library.
Chef: Jon Favreau stars as a restaurant chef who grows disillusioned with his profession and decides to invest in his own food truck. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 11, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.
The Maltese Falcon: A private detective takes on a case surrounding a priceless statue that has fallen into the wrong hands. Screens at 8 p.m. Thursday – Saturday, May 12 – 14, at Cinema Under the Stars in Mission Hills.
Indiana Jones and the Temple of Doom: Harrison Ford’s dashing archeologist travels into the jungle to investigate the disappearance of multiple young boys from a village. Screens at 11:55 p.m. Saturday, May 14, and at 11 a.m. Sunday, May 15 at the Ken Cinema.
Alien: The Director’s Cut: The definitive version of the Sci-fi horror film from Sir Ridley Scott. Screens at 7:30 p.m. Tuesday, May 17, at the Arclight La Jolla Cinemas.
What’s Up, Doc? & Overboard: FilmOut San Diego presents this double feature that starts off with Peter Bogdanovich’s slapstick comedy starring Ryan O’Neal and Barbara Streisand and ends with the Kurt Russell/Goldie Hawn romantic comedy about a wealthy woman with amnesia.
Alice in Wonderland: Tim Burton’s bloated, indulgent take on the classic Lewis Carroll fairy tale. Screens at 8 p.m. Wednesday, May 18, at The Pearl Hotel in Point Loma.