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Turkish Police in Hell or Barbarism vs. Civilisation: A Gothic Reading of Can Evrenol's feature film Baskın (2016)

Research output: Contribution to conference - Without ISBN/ISSN Conference paper

Unpublished
Publication date6/07/2016
Original languageEnglish
EventGlobal Fantastika - Lancaster, United Kingdom
Duration: 4/07/20166/07/2016

Conference

ConferenceGlobal Fantastika
CountryUnited Kingdom
CityLancaster
Period4/07/166/07/16

Abstract

Turkish Horror cinema started 2016 with the goriest film ever made in Turkey as Can Evrenol, a young director famous for his short films, released his first feature Baskın for Turkish horror enthusiasts. As one of the rare Turkish horror films without Islamic themes, Baskın tells the story of five police officers who find themselves in an old and deserted Ottoman police station after answering an emergency call during their night patrol. Once they begin to explore this labyrinth-like building, the officers are captured and wake up in the middle of a ritual with chanting and sexual activity, all under the control of a character named the Father. Having been screened in the Midnight Madness program in 2015 Toronto Film Festival, the film received positive reviews abroad and was appraised by Turkish horror critics while it was highly criticised by Turkish viewers due to its violence, bloody scenes, sexual references and strong language. Nevertheless, Baskın offers a powerful subtext in which the old barbarism vs. civilisation discussion that has been central to the Gothic mode since its birth, is reopened in a contemporary Turkish context. Moreover, the concept of repressed sexuality, another common theme in Gothic narratives, is reinforced in the film as a critique of Turkish masculine culture. In this paper, I will argue that the film engages with the idea of civilisation through the characters of the police officers who symbolise order in society, and of barbarism through the character of the Father and his cult who, in a way, represent the most primitive urges of the human race. Drawing on Maria Boletsi’s idea of the barbarian as ‘incomprehensible, unfamiliar, uncanny, improper’ in the eyes of the civilised, I will generate a discussion which conceptualises traditional masculinity depicted in the film as the barbarian of Turkish society.