Can Evrenol's Baskın arrives with the novelty of being a rare horror film from Turkey. There have been others, to be fair, reaching back decades, but most of the entries I've seen from the past decade or so have felt like awkward imitations of Western horror flicks with a few culturally unique touches. Baskın is better, but it doesn't quite break that trend.
The film follows a group of macho cops on night patrol. (Evrenol reportedly shot in and around Istanbul, but the film's environment seems admirably remote and rural.) Their camaraderie is built on friendly confrontation -- the kind that can go poisonous in an instant, as it does when one of the cops turns on a waiter and proceeds to beat the kid to a pulp. Evrenol and his cast of mostly unknowns immerse us in the heady, twisted machismo of these men, even as eerie little cutaways -- to indistinct pieces of meat on a grill or a tiny frog in a soap dish -- add a gathering sense of otherworldly tension.
So far, so good. And Baskın has one genuinely terrifying scene near its middle, in a kind of dream-vision/projection/flashback straight out of David Lynch's playbook. But it soon devolves into something more familiar and less interesting. The cops are called to an abandoned Ottoman jail situated in what looks like a mansion. There, as they split up, the film devolves first into some inept jump scares, then finds its way to a climax that feels like a cross between wink-wink exploitation and torture porn. On the evidence of the first half, Evrenol understands character, tension and terror. Now all he needs is some follow-through.