“A SERBIAN FILM”
With Halloween around the corner I thought it would be fitting to write about a movie that has kept me up nights (and I’m certain that’s the same for many who’ve seen the film since its premiere at SXSW last year), A Serbian Film.
The debut film of Serbian filmmaker Srdjan Spasojevic, who co-wrote the screenplay with the country’s well-known horror critic, Aleksandar Radivojevic, A Serbian Film (which is available on DVD and Blu-ray today) is one of the most despicable movies I’ve seen in a long time and the images shown will likely stay embedded in my mind for a while, exactly what Spasojevic wants, I’m assuming.
The film focuses on Miloš (Srdan Todorovic), an over-the-hill porn star who has settled down with his wife and young son, though money is hard to come by and he has to deal with visits from his sleazy brother, Marko (Slobodan Beštic). He’s approached by an old porn colleague about an opportunity to make an “art film” that will pay handsomely. He decides to take a meeting with the film’s director, Vukmir (Sergej Trifunovic), who is extremely anxious to work with the “Balkin sex god.” Miloš has his reservations about working on the project, specifically that he will not be told what the film is about, only show up and perform, but the money Vukmir is offering (an amount we are never told) is too good to pass up. So Miloš dives in for one final film.
On the first day of shooting Miloš is driven to an abandoned orphanage where he is immediately being filmed by a security guard with a hand held camera. Miloš is given a small receiver to put in his ear that Vukmir uses to give his directions and Miloš enters the orphanage.
What follows is disturbing, infuriating, at times comical, grotesque, vulgar… the bottom line, you can understand why the film got an NC-17 when it was released here in the States and has been banned in other countries along with being under investigation for crimes against sexual morals in Serbia.
That being said, the story structure by Spasojevic and Radivojevic keeps you intrigued, making you stomach the horrors being displayed until the bitter end.
One critic puts it best: “I admire and detest it at the same time.”
Like all horrors, Spasojevic’s film has themes throughout that give commentary on social issues of the day. Especially in a country like Serbia that is still reeling from decades of civil unrest, you can probably call this a release of sorts for the filmmakers. But there comes a moment when the spectacle of shocking the audience trumps all.
So for those who love “torture porn” and The Human Centipede movies but feel they didn’t go far enough — I guess A Serbian Film is what you should watch this Halloween weekend.