Friday, November 05, 2010

A Serbian Film (Review)

A Serbian Film

A Serbian Film (2010)
Directed by Srdjan Spasojevic

"It's like a cartoon for grownups"

That's a quote from one of the characters in A Serbian Film, which by now if you're a fan of the film festival circuit, you know about the reputation this film has received.

Was it a movie critiquing the Serbian government's brainwashing of ordinary citizens into committing atrocities during the war? Or is it a vile, disgusting piece of crap pretending to be art?

Honestly, I don't know. As I watched I tried to see if there was satire as we watch the de-evolution of our main character Milos. But viewing fucked up scene after fucked up scene, I was kind of shocked into a jaded submission of WTF. Something is being said about the Serbian's ravaged past but all that kept echoing was "NEWBORN PORN!"

That is one of the many fucked up things that happens in A Serbian Film.

Critics have either praised or been disgusted by the film and I now know why. Having heard of this film through the festival grapevine (and that it was being banned from film fests) I can honestly say it's a downright despicable film from the beginning and especially towards the end.

In the vain of Palumbo's Murder Set Pieces, Buttgereit's Nekromantik, Oldboy, August Underground and Hostel, the movie shocks and shocks until you vomit and then shocks some more. I of course have made it a point to see all the most fucked up movies and to be honest, yeah it's sickening but not as sickening as I thought it would be.

Could a commentary on Serbia's government and the lives of its citizens NOT be done in such a vile manor? Sure, but nobody would go see it. Only the art cinephiles would see a subtitled film portraying the atrocities of a small country in Eastern Europe.

So Srdjan Spasojevic and writer Aleksandar Radivojevic decided to go the exploitation/horror sub genre to make a point. Exploitation is now the new chic, the "It" genre, the rebooted sub genre that used to be the stepchild of the horror genre.

And that's why I think it's effective. Can anybody truly "like" a movie like this? Of course not. But in it's perverted, fucked up way, it was effective in doing the 3 things it set out to do.
  • Shock the hell out of people
  • Say something important
  • Get people talking
Be honest, it does all 3 and it does it well.

Boring Plot-O-Matic

Milos is a former porn star who is down on his luck financially. When he receives a call from his long-time movie actress partner, Layla, he welcomes her call. Apparently she's heard that a new film director wants to hire Milos to star in his "artistically-designed" porn film for a very generous price. He is easily lured form his semi-retirement by the lucrative offer, agreeing to meet the director in an isolated mansion.

As the filming progresses, Milo begins to suspect that the director's intentions may be darker than mere pornography. As the film begins to devolve into a horrifically violent production, Milos finds escape may not be an option

Awesome Review-O-Matic

To tell you which scenes were most shocking is like telling you what part of the haunted house the scares are going to come from. If I just wrote down and described to you all the WTF moments, it wouldn't have the same impact as seeing it. So no spoilers here.

I've been reading the IMDB message boards and they're outright hilarious.

Somebody wrote:
  • "My son is 15 years old and wanted to see this film at a friends house. He can watch most horror films OK and enjoys them but I'm a bit worried about this one. Is it really that bad?"
  • American Remake?
Hahahaha. Too funny. Umm no kids should not being watch a movie that has pornography, rape, bloody violence and Skinemax style sexual acts. Jeez.

But I digress. The movie is indeed an extreme film that will jolt Joe Moviegoer and make even the most jaded viewer cringe. (hahaha pun intended). I'm adding fuel to the fire. So how does this controversial film accomplish what it set out to do?

What the shock?

The first 40 or so minutes is set up. We follow Milos, a now retired porn star with a wife and little boy. We can see he yearns slightly for his past sexcapades but his ultimate driving force is for his family. The set up is not without it's weird scenes as we see Milos's 5 yr old son watch his father's work via VHS (yes VHS!).

It's not until Milos agrees to star in Vukmir's "art" porn that our "artist of fuck" starts to wonder what he's gotten himself into. Soon he's being followed by bodyguards doubling as camera operators. Spasojevic litters the next 30 or so minutes with hard to stomach scenes ranging from violent BJs, To Catch a Predator innuendo and the kicker of it all "newborn porn". I'm going to leave that last bit alone. It's enough to make me cringe all over again.

The film is no holds barred when it comes to sex. Bordering on porn, it's full frontal with all its nudity and its simulated sex scenes. There isn't any soft music with rose petals here dude. It's grimy, filthy, bloody violent sexual insanity. All of it contained in a feverish frenzy of nightmares and reality mixed in.

Slowly Milos is trapped on an endless loop of depravity where he loses himself. Discovering what's been done to him, he goes all vengeance served cold but it's far to late. When we get to the end, the climax is reprehensible and the twists are revealed and the ultimate WTF moment is shown to our now raped retinas.

The movie does a decent job of slowly burning the shock into our minds. The first scenes Milos has to "film" are tame in the beginning but become more fucked up as we go along. By the time we see the reveal of everything that has happened, you are tolerable enough to withstand the impact (well at least I was).

Yes the movie shocks and awes and punches you in the balls with a steel toed boot. I'll admit, it does everything as advertised.

So say something important

If I really think about it hard enough, yeah there is a slight political message in the film. Milos, a common man is seduced into making an art house porn film (if there is such a thing which is an argument in itself). Slowly, he is turned into a raving sexual lunatic made to do the most deplorable acts by the director.

If the message by Srdjan Spasojevic and Aleksandar Radivojevic is to say that ordinary men were tricked by the Serbian government to kill and commit unspeakable atrocities during the Yugoslavian war and they have still not recovered, it's definitely within the context of the film.

Sex and violence are almost interchangeable within the world of film these days. If this movie had been about an ex military sniper who is lured back to kill again, we would not even give this type of movie a second guess. Say this sniper killed not just men but women and kids, we'd be aghast but not completely shocked. But A Serbian Film substitutes sex for violence and somehow it's more sickening.

Sex and violence go hand in hand and the filmmakers know this. They're aware of how the old 70s American grindhouse movie would justify rape with revenge. Do they do this effectively? Like a punch in the face, yeah they do.

Porn is the cinematic equivalent of an action themed blood soaked war film. Is seeing rape depicted on scene far worse than seeing a man shot point blank in the head? Aren't these similar in fuckedupness? Both are acts of violence yet somehow one is worst than another?

Americans don't really know about what goes on outside our borders. I only recently understood the Yugoslavian war through a ESPN 30 for 30 documentary about Vlade Divac and Drazen Petrovic. If somehow the director and writer wanted to make a statement about their country's plight to me, the average American cinephile, they picked the genre with the most impact.

Hell, I can't resist a exploitation movie.

Damn, now I'm talking about this

So with my positive review, I've chosen the side which believes the movie has a point to prove. Can it be said that other shocking films have one? The fact that A Serbian Film can say something says a lot about this most messed up movie.

Sometimes, a food doesn't look all too good. It also smells and looks peculiar. But when you bite into it, it taste fuckin awesome.

I'm not saying I'm going to eat A Serbian Film all the time, but I'd say for the adventurous and probably jaded viewers out there, it's a good solid snack. There aren't many movies out there that take chances that want to shock the shit out of people. Most of the ones have come overseas which includes Martyrs, Inside and Them. These films go over the proverbial edge to make a point. They try to drop an ACME anvil over your head to make a statement.

I can say adamantly A Serbian Film clearly does that.


Tons of full frontal nudity by hot women
BBA trifecta (boobs, bush and ass)
Full frontal male nudity


Beheaded head splatter
Head bashing
Gun shot trauma
Tons of carnage

WTF moment

Newborn pron?!??!
The climactic ending

The Jaded Viewer's Final Prognosis

The film has made it's way through a bunch of film festivals. Supposedly in the UK, it's been cut by 3 minutes.

Should you see it?

Yeah why the fuck not? It's not everyday you see a movie which is a total mindfuck. I make it my mission to challenge myself by viewing movies that want to challenge the way I think about the world and also to challenge my psyche and my senses. Plain and simple, A Serbian Film does both.

The Vitals

Check out the trailer below!


  1. Good job. I enjoyed it too. A serb friend of mine said it pretty much drums the history of the country in the 1990's. Although she declines to watch it (or most horror films at that matter) she heralds the film maker as bold. It is an important document and it's also a bloody good film. It's a sick world we live and sitting on your arse pretending everything is fine with your brand new cars, big houses and perfect lives. You can't ban this movie. It's the viewers choice. I'm sure worse is seen in war.

    Jaded, this one of the better reviews i have read of this film.

  2. Have yet to catch this, but great review, man.

    I like your point of this being a film with something to say but admitting that it needs to be over-the-top to get attention outside of the arthouse folks.

  3. Wow Jeff. I've been following your site now for a few years and I have to say, hands down, this is the most thoughtful, insightful and make-me-want-to-go-see-this-right-now-no-matter-how-vile-it-is review you've ever written. I've always been a fan of course but this review is just stellar.

  4. Agreed, I have been pretty 'meh' over the recent news surrounding the film since it just seemed like another run of the mill shocker, but I'm all in now!

  5. Thanks all for the stellar comments and compliments. It's much appreciated. Sure I could have done an over the top "this is some sick shit" review, but after watching the movie, I searched for some interviews with the director and writer seeing what they intended the film to do. Sometimes you gotta research a few things before you write a review and I knew I had to for this one.

  6. Very nice review there Jaded. I believe the mixed reviews are also serving as the fuel that keeps conversations about this film going. Like now that I have read the extreme positives and extreme negatives, I'm so curious to see this movie.

    - Dexter DeLima

  7. "Was it a movie critiquing the Serbian government's brainwashing of ordinary citizens into committing atrocities during the war?"

    You see how stupid you people are ? Actually it is also the Director's fault . This movie has nothing to do with the wars in balkans . The "message" here is about the depravity of the capitalist system , the mafia , rise in crime , how the government and system "fucks you from birth" .

    But all that is lost on you . As it is the movie only serves to demonize a people who have been demonized enough already . The messages could have been presented in many different ways instead what you get is shock only for shock's sake . Those of you who see art here are idiots . This director clearly hates his country and has found a way to make a sensation for himself and that's it .

    At the most it is an act of evil to make this kind of movie . At the very least , it is gross criminal negligence . In today's time , anyone 6 years old and up can download this from the internet . If not , his/her friend can get it or it will find another way to circulate through the halls of your local high school .

    Let's not be naive , kids today are seeking all sorts of very weird and disturbing material on the internet . I have seen this behavior myself firsthand .

    Can you imagine the effect on a young person's mind ? Many adults have been traumatized by viewing this film . And I am not talking about those of you who are numbed out by years of viewing horror movies or drugged or whatever your mental problem is .

    It is simply unconscionable to make this in today's age period .

  8. LOL what a dick you are, Anonymous. if a 6 years old kid is downloading this, where the fuck are the parents?! An adult, should NOT in anyway be restrain to make movies because of irresponsible parents. Downloading is also illegal.

  9. Hi everyone :) I watched this movie a couple of days ago and its pretty Fucking heavy !, I'm a long time horror sponge so I thought I knew what to expect. I was very wrong indeed. Just be prepared is all I'm saying. i thought is breeze through it like in the past but this movie (once the carnage begins) is relentless. It's got under my skin anyways. The final scene is mindblowlingly grim as is the "reveal".

  10. From all the comments, its clear the movie is doing what was intended. Being controversial.

    Which is why I made it my #1 horror movie of 2010. Check out the top 10 by clicking on here

  11. Okay, here goes. I am twenty years old and actually want to see this. And although I have a high threshold for horror (I've seen "Martyrs" and "The Human Centipede II") but I also have severe OCD (in recovery at the moment :) ) "A Serbian Film" is available to buy on Amazon (not on Netflix tho) and I thought about buying me a copy. Should I? :P

    I really like your reviews. They're highly entertaining. If you want to visit my blog some time feel free; I review a lot of horror movies as well as other genres and some of the novels I read. Cheers!

    1. Thanks for the kind words. I've seen some fucked up films and there isn't going back once you see something like A Serbian Film. But you gotta see it as its in the top 10 of just crazy messed up horror. I'll check out your blog!

  12. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.

  13. This comment has been removed by a blog administrator.