Are all East-Europeans sick and twisted perverts?!?
Milos, a former adult movies star down on his luck, excepts a lucrative offer to star once more in a new film. When meeting the alleged director in his secluded mansion, Milos is being told this will be an artistic film project. Needless to say the poor guy has no idea about what he’s getting himself into.
(mild spoilers ahead…)
A Serbian Film played at the 28th Brussels International Fantastic Film Festival. I simply had to watch it because it came with all kind of warnings like “this movie contains extremely violent scenes that might shock some people”. Okay, usually I’m not the least bit impressed by this sort of clever tricks to lure more people to the theater. But in this case it had some kind of significance, because the regulars at this festival are quite used to seeing extreme bloodshed, perversity and madness. If the organizers of this particular festival felt there was a necessity to provide additional warnings to this crowd of loyal genre fanatics, than this must be an exceptionally shocking film. And it is … Well, let’s just say there are certain sequences that are too revolting for words, but naturally the film itself is nothing extraordinary or even half-decent viewing material. The explicit pornographic footage is shocking merely for the sake of shocking and the most controversial sequences (one involving a newborn baby) are totally redundant and have absolutely no added value.
Personally, I’m having difficulties understanding what exactly the makers of A Serbian Film wanted to accomplish here. Thanks to films like Hostel, half of the world already thinks that East-European countries are rotten places and that all the people living there are sick and violent psychopaths. With this film writers Aleksander Radivojevic and Srdjan Spasojevic only seem to confirm and intensify this sordid reputation, as if they are proud of living in a country the rest of the world thinks of as a hellhole. Both gentlemen were present at the Brussels Festival to promote their film to die-hard cult audiences and naturally they were asked why they felt the need to make such a heinous and disturbing movie. They replied that the movie contains a massive amount of frustrations that are irrevocably linked to living in Serbia, like continuous economic recession, post-Yugoslavian war traumas and political instability. Okay, I can relate to that, but is shooting a brutal and vicious pseudo-snuff film really the right way to process this oppressed anger?
The story introduces retired and literally hung-like-a-horse porn star Milos (Srdjan Todorovic). He’s worried about not being able to support his wife and son these days, but then he receives an offer he can’t refuse. The sleazy Vukmir (Sergej Trifunovic) wants Milos to play the lead part in his supposedly experimental and artistic motion picture and offers him a paycheck he can’t possibly resist. The only condition is that Milos will not have any insight in the script and has to shoot his scenes on a day-by-day basis. Quite obviously Vukmir is producing a snuff movie and forces Milos, whether or not under the influence of drugs, to do extremely nasty stuff to his co-actresses in front of the camera.
Undoubtedly, A Serbian Film is deeply unpleasant and grim, but the film isn’t so much disturbing as it is gratuitous and provocative. You could tell the makers were proudly smirking when people stood up and walked out of the theater before the film was finished. The depictions of sex and violence are disgusting, but especially the tone and narrative are mean-spirited. And yet, A Serbian Film is pretty well-made with imaginative camera-work and rough but professional editing. The soundtrack is terrific (that is, if you like loud and boisterous techno/dubstep tunes) and the acting is pretty decent. The film contains at least four sequences that I’ll never ever forget in my life. Yikes.