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Aug 07 2015

A Serbian Film

A Serbian Film horizontal poster

[This is a review of the uncut version. Spoilers will be behind spoiler tags. Go with God.]

Milos (Srdan Todorovic) was a once a well-known porn star who hasn’t worked in awhile. Burnt out on the business, he’s happily married to Marija (Jelena Gavrilovic) and they have a six year old boy, Petar (Luka Mijatovic). Money is a concern, however, so when Milos is given the opportunity to star in an ‘artistic’ film for an amount that will set the family up for the rest of even their son’s life he is tempted.

The filmmaker, Vukmir (Sergej Trifunovic) wants him to sign the contract without telling him the plot of the film, which he’s uneasy about, but after discussing it with his wife, decides to do for the sake of their financial future and being done with porn forever.

His first day he is picked up and driven to the filming location then given an ear-piece and told to follow instructions as they are given to him. There are cameras in various places but he does as he is told and gets through the first scene where a woman gives him a blow job while he watches films of underage girls doing their make up and eating ice cream without incident.

Following work days are worse. Milos is forced to punch a woman while she pulls him off and an underage girl watches, cheering him on something he is not interested in doing, but he has no choice.

And we only descend deeper into Hell from there, folks.

He decides he doesn’t want to work on the film any longer and goes to Vukmir to tell him so. Vukmir gives Milos a line about it not being about pornography, but about life itself. He then shows Milos one of his films, which is of a woman explicitly giving birth and the ‘doctor’ who delivers the newborn then raping it.

Milos is sickened by this and leaves.

He wakes up days later and there is blood and he can’t immediately recall what happened. He returns to the set and finds tapes, which helps him remember:

  • Being drugged with something to induce rage, tumescence and suggestibility
  • Rage fucking the woman he had to hit earlier and eventually being provoked into decapitating her with a machete
  • Being thanked for killing the woman and invited to deflower the underage girl who’d encourage the violence against the woman in the earlier scene. At this he’d jumped up and threatened to cut off his dick then jumped out the window.
  • Being raped by one of the security guards on set whilst he was unconscious.
  • One of the tapes shows a longtime friend of his who’d connected him with Vukmir saying he shouldn’t be treating Milos this way.
  • Then she’s on her knees, her wrists in chains above her head, her teeth have been removed. A man chokes her to death with his dick by holding her nose closed while forcing himself as far down her throat as possible.
  • He is led into a large room with a huge, low bed and two unconscious people lying face down with hats on under a duvet. Milos is guided to one of the bodies and someone else in a mask gets behind the other and they begin doing what they do. After awhile Vukmir pulls off the other man’s mask to reveal it’s Milos’ corrupt cop of a brother. Then the hat of his person to reveal it’s his wife, just about the time his brother is finishing. Then Vukmir pulls off Milos’ partner’s hat to reveal it’s his six-years-old son.
  • Marija regains consciousness around this point and, realising what’s happened, kills the shit out of Milos’ brother while Milos is murdering everyone else. There was one death in particular I thought rather grand, which was when he shoved his dick through someone’s eyesocket. Dudes threaten to skull-fuck people regularly, but they never do it. Milos did it.

Caught up on what’s been happening, Milos finds his family in the basement. They decide it’s for the best if they all die. So Milos shoots the three of them lying together on their bed.

Just in case that was a very nearly redemptive ending: Another film crew walks in and the new director says to the new star, ‘Start with the smallest one.’

A Serbian Film UK Poster

When I was doing research for this section—I was looking up reviews to see how on Earth people had reviewed it—I discovered that the film has a website. Not all that surprising, most things do these days. But there are downloadable wallpapers. In case you want to be reminded of the most horrific film ever every time you look at your desktop. (I mentioned the film had wallpapers to my husband and all the features of his face scrunched to the middle of his head in confusion.)

So now it’s time for my critical comments. Because those come after the plot synopsis. Here I go.

Well. The filmmakers, Srdan Spasojevic and Aleksandar Radivojevic, have given articulate explanations of what the film’s intentions were. And, viewed through that lens, as it were, it succeeds in spades.

The acting, directing, writing, cinematography, all those things are… fine? Believable within the context of the particular Hell these poor fuckers inhabit.

And thus ends my critical comments.

The film has been banned in Spain, Finland, Portugal, France, Germany, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, Singapore and Norway. It was temporarily banned from screening in Brazil.

Three highlights, for me, in terms of trivia: [all from Wikipedia]

  • It was banned in Germany because it couldn’t be rated, as the ratings board wasn’t sure if it violated federal laws.
  • In Serbia there are no ratings. Anyone can watch anything.
  • At the first screening in the world, which was at the Alamo Drafthouse Cinema, the owner invited people on stage, where they snorted lines of salt, squeezed lime juice in their eyes and took shots of tequila in order to ‘understand what Serbians have been through to create a culture of A Serbian Film’.
    The beauty of this being that, according to the creators of the film, the reason they made it was because the films there were all too politically correct as opposed to this being the only way they could feel anything after being numbed by the horrors of living in Eastern Europe.

(I told my friend Bug about the salt, lime, tequila torture and she said she’d rather do that to herself after seeing it as a way to perhaps forget having watched the thing. When I asked if she’d seen it her response was: ‘No fucking way!’ Which may be the sane way to go.)

Speaking of, time for the rating portion of the review.

Usually I give films a rating out of five, but I can’t rate this one. You probably have some idea of what you’re getting into. Watch it if you’d like. I’m creating a new rating for this film: UNRATED

If you do decide to watch it, do yourself a favour and have something lighter to watch afterwards. Like Requiem for a Dream.

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