When I started the Basement section, it was intended to let you lovely readers know what you’re in for when it comes to potentially extreme cinema. Stupidly, I didn’t even think of the consequences of watching the films that me and my fellow reviewers would have to endure. It was all for fun. I can wholeheartedly confirm that A Serbian Film is in absolutely no way, shape or form “fun”.
Milos (Srdan Todorovic) is a semi retired adult film star who now has a wife and son. His life is nothing special; it coasts along nicely, although he misses the money that came with the job. His brother, Marko (Slobodan Bestic) is jealous of Milos life and family; he can’t seem to hold a relationship.
When Milo receives an offer from a past co-star for one last payday that will secure his family financially for the rest of their lives, he is intrigued. Only thing is, he cannot know of what he’s filming until he’s signed the contract and on set. The director, Vukmir, (Segej Trifunovic) a well connected and wealthy pornographer assures him it’s an “art film” and chose Milos specifically for his ability to… keep going. After much deliberation, Milos agrees to shoot the film, and the viewer then starts to descend the staircase into the appalling and nauseating bowels of A Serbian Film.
As soon as I saw this on the shelf in my local DVD store (yes, this is sold on the high street, albeit with 4 minutes cut to warrant an 18 rating, but even then it should be rated higher) I was ‘interested’; the “valid ID MUST be shown” sticker was something I’d not seen before on a DVD case, but even so I was a little dubious that it was all for show, and the content couldn’t be that bad, could it? A quick Google search confirmed that the content was indeed that bad, which made me want it more.
I was “fortunate” enough to get the Unrated version, and 40 minutes in nothing seemed too controversial. An insane amount of sex and porn scenes, yes, but nothing most men haven’t seen before. But when they arrive at the location for filming and it’s an Orphanage, then you start to realise the worst is yet to come.
The controversy comes mainly from two scenes, but those are images that will stay with me forever. How anyone could possibly think up those particular scenarios is beyond me, although I’ve heard a lot about how there’s “hidden messages” and it’s all a big metaphor for past Serbia atrocities. I fail to see how the raping and beating of a woman tied to a bed, who this then beheaded whilst he still continues to rape her is a metaphor for anything, and that particular scene isn’t one of the ones that I found the most disturbing. But really, what messages were supposed to be portrayed? Porn is bad? Or money isn’t everything, and if you think it is you’ll be forced to do things that no human should ever be subjected to? One that I thought of that may apply is that this “art film” he is filming is for an audience; people who pay to see the extremes of life. Well, isn’t that exactly what the audience is doing, watching this film? It almost could be satire. But ultimately, it all just seemed like one nightmarish plot point after another.
I’m trying not to give too much away here; if you still wish to see this soul blackening film, I’m not going to stop you; I just don’t recommend it. Necrophilia, Paedophilia, male and female rape, torture, extremely strong violence, self mutilation, decapitation; all things that can be found in the 110 minute runtime. Just look at that list again; it almost feels criminal to watch it. I honestly didn’t know what to do with myself after viewing; I didn’t feel like doing anything other than trying to shake the images from my mind. This may all sound really melodramatic, but trust me it’s unlike anything you have ever seen (or want to see) before. Even after you think the worst is over, the screenwriters are relentless in making you feel horrid about yourself. WHY did you watch this?
A Serbian Film is unlike anything I have ever experienced. Martyrs was the most disturbing film I’d ever seen up until this, but that had the advantage of a storyline that made you think and ponder what happened. I do not want to ponder or think over the events that occur in this film, but I know I will. It’s inevitable. The most terrifying thing about it is… where does Horror go from here? It covers ground that I thought would never be available to a mainstream audience, but how much further can it go? As much as I’d like to think I wouldn’t want to see it, I’d only be lying to myself.
I have seen A Serbian Film. I can take anything, right?