***No real spoilers***
Turkey has produced some wonderful films over the years. ‘Yol’ (1982) from Yilmaz Gulney, was one of the most impressive films of the 1980s, in my opinion. But I wouldn’t instinctively associate Turkish cinema with horror films. At least not until today.
This film begins with a scene-setting segment reminiscent of ‘Reservoir Dogs’. Five Turkish policemen are in a restaurant, about to start a night duty shift in some rural area of that country. Four are older and experienced, the fifth a young new recruit. One of the men is suffering from claustrophobia, and the chief of the group is experiencing something like a migraine. They joke around, tell stories, tease each other, and generally convey the impression of being a solid team, who all know each other very well.
When they leave, they get a request to assist another unit some miles away, in an unfamiliar area. They set off in their police minibus, lights flashing, and send a radio message that they are on their way.
Then everything changes, and not in a good way.
As events unfold, we are left wondering if these are real, or dreams. They might even be hallucinations. As viewers, we can never be 100% sure, and have to remember not to believe what we are seeing. A car crash that might never have happened, encounters that may or may not be real. Pretty soon my head was spinning, as I tried to sort fantasy from reality.
When they arrive at the location, a deserted former police station in some remote woodland setting, thing turn very nasty indeed. They find their colleague’s car abandoned, and enter the building to discover their fate. What happens next is something like Clive Barker meets Blair Witch, with the action mostly seen in the light from the policemen’s torches. And chilling stuff it is. Radios do not work, phones do not work, and the sights inside are sufficient to terrify the most hardened horror film fan.
But then it all changes again. Two of the men are seen in a different cafe. They speak of things metaphysical, and the viewer is left wondering if it is all just a vision, and if what we have just seen even happened. Fast forward to even more horrible events, that may or may not be in the same abandoned police station. Then the action gets quite difficult to handle, and is only for the most dedicated horror fans. Cannibalism, mutilation, torture, demon-like characters, and body-horror abounds. It is an eye-popping (literally) feat of gruesome goings on that will test the endurance of many.
I paused the film and sat back. This was powerful stuff indeed. Even more so, as it provided no neat plot, no real sequence of events, and left me reeling at the visuals. This was surrealism, 21st century style, mixed with witchcraft and demonic practices somehow familiar, but then some some. I had to seriously consider that this was a horror film like no other. I went into it thinking it might be a kind of ‘.Rec’ meets ‘Hellraiser’. But I was wrong. It was something very different, something unique, and not at all like the Turkish offering in the genre that I had been expecting.
This was something special indeed. Wow!
Oh, and there are frogs. Lots of them.
If you think you have seen it all, then watch this. But be warned.
Here’s the official trailer.