A Defense of “A Serbian Film”

If you follow the horror-world then you’ve probably heard of the 2010 Serbian film, A Serbian Film. The film has become notorious for the investigation into whether it broke any laws in Serbia. It was also banned in Spain altogether. It was just released in the U.S., although it’s a truncated version. I saw this version, running at 98 minutes, last night.
The film has definitely polarized people. Some decry it as exploitive trash, others think that it’s brilliant. I fall quite close to the second camp. It’s flawed but it’s far from trash.
Miloš (Srdan Todorović) is a retired, legendary porn-star with a wife, Marija (Jelena Gavrilović), and son, Petar. He has some cash from his porn days squirreled away but money’s getting tight. Most of all he wants to get his family out of Serbia. A former coworker, Lejla (Katarina Žutić) tells him to contact Vukmir (Sergej Trifunović) about a job that pays really well. In fact, they only want Miloš, who Vukmir describes as the “Nikola Tesla of porn.” I guess that means he has a Tesla coil where his dong is.

I'ma rock your world, baby.

Miloš agrees to the job although he’s concerned that they won’t tell him exactly what it’s about. Vukmir describes it as art-house porn with real people in real situations. But the situations are very weird, even for porn, and Miloš decides he wants no part in the movie. He wakes up three days later, battered and bloodied, and with no recollection of what happened. The rest of the movie is a nonlinear attempt to figure out what the hell happened to him.
There are scenes of indescribable brutality. I don’t want to describe them because, 1. A lot of space has been devoted to them and you can look up what they are anywhere and 2. I want you to see for yourself and see as the story unfolds. This is the most violent movie I have ever seen. Ever. I am warning you, there is rape, murder, necrophilia, and, in the U.S. version implied pedophilia. The violence is intensely realistic. At one point I thought I was going to throw-up, although that’s partly because the movie touched on one of my quirky fears. (My teeth. I’m terrified something will happen to them or that I’ll lose one and I’ll have to go to work missing a front tooth. Do you ever have dreams where your teeth just crumble to shards or they fly out of your mouth? I have them often.) I mean, there was literal skull-fucking in this movie.
The movie is crafted well-enough to make you like Miloš and his family. You care about them and want them to have a happy ending. This isn’t like a Saw movie with Jigsaw moralizing over his victims. This makes their fate too painful. I can’t say it enough, film-makers, but you have to make us care about your characters. You think that a former porn-star would be all levels of gross and sleazy but Miloš is a nice guy. If anything, his brother Marko (Slobodan Beštić), a crooked cop, is the creepy one.
The film-making itself was amazing. I liked that the structure was nonlinear, making you as scared and confused as Miloš was. I tracked his nose-bleed to tell whether I was in the past or the present. No one mentioned in the reviews that I read how psychedelic the movie became.
Most surprisingly of all, the movie had a sense of humor. There’s a sequence of Miloš preparing himself to go back to work and it’s funny because it evokes pretty much every training-sequence in movies like Rocky.
Ultimately, what made me like the movie is that it was made by Serbians and reflected upon a country battered by years of war and ethnic tensions. I would have disliked this movie if it were an American production because then I think it would be exploitive. It would be outsiders coming into judge. Instead, it was made by people who survived war and survived what happens when the people who are supposed to represent you betray you. And the characters in this movie commit many, many betrayals. I just wish that we had a chance to see more of Serbian life than we were offered in the movie. While money troubles were alluded to, the stakes just didn’t seem high enough to justify undergoing this very unknown and risky venture. Still, this is the least of the plotholes I’ve seen in the recent movies I’ve viewed.
This movie is definitely not for everyone. Please, I beg you, avoid this if you have a weak stomach. But I also ask that you give this movie a chance, as a unique piece of art. The filmmakers didn’t just create this to be shocking, they have a real statement to make and it’s something the world should see. Besides, isn’t the point of art to be shocking, to provoke?


About scarina

I like scary movies a little too much. I thought I'd share my obsession with you.
This entry was posted in 21st century, foreign, thriller, you so crazy and tagged , . Bookmark the permalink.

11 Responses to A Defense of “A Serbian Film”

  1. Fear Street says:

    I had heard of this movie, but I had no idea it was so brutal. The thought of watching it makes me cringe, but I feel compelled to see it anyway…

    Also: I too have had dreams in which my teeth fall out. The latest simply involved me standing in the bathroom in front of the mirror and watching my teeth fall out one by one into the sink. Click clack.

    • scarina says:

      If you can stand the brutality, it’s an interesting mystery kind of flick.
      Yikes, I had a dream like that too. I hate those dreams so, so much.

  2. Jennifer says:

    Thanks for the warning. Despite my love of horror films I can get squicked out pretty quickly. May have to avoid this one.

    • scarina says:

      I think that this was the goriest movie I’ve ever seen. And the gore is quite realistic, it’s not like Kill Bill with spurts of cartoony blood. I never considered myself faint of heart until I saw this movie.

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  5. Chev Chelios says:

    I dl it and watched it a few days ago, the uncut original version and it’s a pretty interesting movie if you understand the symbolism in it. Although one thing that took me out of the movie is the director, Vukmir looks like the guy that played Non in Superman II so he was really hard to take seriously. Here’s a pic:

    Also the guy that played Milos looked a lot like that guy that played Joe Chill in Batman Begins and he is also in the Knights of Cydonia video by Muse so he was hard to take seriously as well. Here’s a pic:

    Also Vukmir’s bodyguard, the bald sunglasses guy looked a lot like the drummer from Radiohead and he was hard to take seriously, especially in the babby rape scene which also looked like the Quato puppet from Total Recall. Here’s pics:

    Anyways, it was a decent film, i’d probably give it **1/2 out of 4. The reaction to this film from some reviewers on horror sites that gushed over shit like Audition and Cannibal and Cannibal Holocaust and Flower of Flesh and Blood and Ichi The Killer and Tokyo Gore Police and Inside and Martyrs and Chan Wook-Park’s vengeance trilogy and Wolf Creek and Hostel and the Saw films are pretty hilarious reading them whine like some little pussy bitch over A Serbian FIlm which is not as sick and disgusting as some the other films I mentioned. Get some fucking balls or stop reviewing movies if you lose your shit just because it shows some dude hold a rubber baby puppet up to his crotch for 10 seconds and then Milos is unknowingly fucking his son’s ass at the end. Boo-fucking-hoo it’s soooo shocking omg! Yeah it’s fucked up but these movies have shit like this in them. Get a grip you bitches.

    • scarina says:

      Ha, I guess it’s a good thing that I’m so isolated from pop culture that I was unfamiliar with every one of your references.
      I don’t really read a lot of horror review sites and most of the ones I read haven’t mentioned it. Which is a shame, I really liked it. Did you stream the movie or did you get a DVD? I really want to see an uncut version and I know the one I saw in theaters was editted. I was more interested by government’s reactions to the movie. It’s like they forgot the difference between movies and reality.

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  7. kanahagino says:

    Yeah, I remember this movie.
    Maybe I thought of it as a “courage test” so I watched this and many other horror movies during my teenager years.
    Cannibal Holocaust and A Serbian Movie were too much for me. I guess I was too weak to watch them…
    I really don’t mind most other movies (not even Salo) but these two were… I have no words for it.
    I mean, they are not BAD as per se, but they were just TOO realistic for me. Maybe that’s why my stomach churned.

    • scarina says:

      That’s understandable. I actually haven’t seen Cannibal Holocaust. I’m not a vegetarian but I hate the idea of gratuitous violence towards animals.
      I don’t think I could watch A Serbian Film again. I don’t own it & it’s not something I’d ever pop in just for fun.

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