A Serbian Film Review

A Serbian Film
Happily married ex-porn star Milos (Todorovic) is lured out of retirement by auteur Vukmir Vukmir (Trifunovic). Consenting to appear in a new kind of reality porn art movie, Milos finds himself drugged, abused, duped and lured into committing sexual atrocities.

by Kim Newman |
Published on
Release Date:

10 Dec 2010

Running Time:

95 minutes



Original Title:

A Serbian Film

This keeps dropping in lines like, “Ahh, a perfect Serbian family” (over a scene of rape, incest and murder) and briefly likens its Mephistophelean movie director to “someone you’d meet in the Hague” (i.e. a war criminal), suggesting there is specific national meaning in what is otherwise a remorseless, well-made, horrifying descent into personal hell. Whether its political element is spurious justification for a cynical exercise in attention-getting taboo-busting is down to the individual viewer — but it ought to be viewers, not censorship bodies, who make that decision.

Any purpose the film might have beyond ultra-shock is compromised because its notion of extreme art-porn as a symptom of societal apocalypse is well-worn from the mainstream likes of 8MM or Vacancy. Its worst atrocities — which include the rape of a new-born baby (less explicit in the BBFC-censored version) — are conceptually beyond the pale, but executed with a fakey glee (and obvious special effects) which put it closer in tone to The Toxic Avenger than, say, Videodrome or Lost Highway. That said, plenty of scenes here push various envelopes, and manage to be sick-making no matter how ridiculous they are. That baby-rapist is paid back when the hero, dosed up on horse Viagra, spears him through the eye-socket with his mighty erection, for instance, and the protagonist’s corrupt cop brother (Slobodan Bestic) pays a porn actress back for brushing him off by literally choking her with his dick.

Director/co-writer Srdjan Spasojevic gives the film a distinctive widescreen look and an impressive, slightly stylised use of dim lighting and art direction (the snuff sets look more like a Philippe Starck hotel than the usual reclaimed industrial site), which adds a certain distance that means the film isn’t quite the hateful ordeal its synopsis suggests it is. Srdjan Todorovic, suffering about as much as any leading man in the movies, gives a strong performance as Milos The Filthy Stud. Though the film features more than its share of abused women (and, hideously, children), its primary victim is the male lead, who is paid back for his ridiculous potency with repeated physical, mental and emotional rape.

If you collect controversy, this is a must-see, interesting, important and worth a heated discussion over the stiff drinks you’ll need after you see it. Still, it’s not really anyone’s idea of a satisfying evening out, and no-one would blame you for giving it a miss.
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