If you’ve seen cult phenomenon A Serbian Film, then you’ll know what to expect from this review. If you haven’t seen it, then this review will do one of two things: either it will intrigue you into watching it, or it will disgust you and warn you away from ever setting eyes upon it. Either way, ensure that you make your choice carefully, and don’t blame me for any repercussions should you watch it. Spoilers ahead.
If one was asked to give a ten-word summary of the plot of this film, it might be something along the lines of “retired pornstar forced to fuck his way into international infamy”. Written, directed and produced by filmmaker Srđan Spasojević, the unimaginatively-titled (upon first glance, at least) A Serbian Film follows the story of protagonist Miloš (Srđan Todorović), a famous semi-retired pornstar who agrees to take part in one last production led by antagonist Vukmir (Sergej Trifunović) in order to ensure financial security for his family, wife Marija (Jelena Gavrilović) and son Petar (actor unknown, for reasons which will become clear).
Miloš is instructed to make his way to an abandoned orphanage, where he is placed in various sexual situations and filmed by Vukmir’s crew. With no kind of censorship whatsoever, Miloš is depicted in a darkened room being felated by an unidentified woman, while images of a young girl are displayed across the walls. At this point the viewer starts to realise that something about the film isn’t quite right, and worries about the relevance of the inclusion of an underage girl in proceedings. Spasojević, though, cleverly draws you into a false sense of security with story-building scenes of mundane everydayness, including a section where Miloš asks his police officer brother Marko (Slobodan Beštić) to check the background of suspicious and mysterious director Vukmir.
The tone of the movie soon becomes clear though, somewhere around the time that Miloš is forced to have sex with a battered and bruised woman while the young girl from the videos in the previous ‘scene’ sits on and observes. As the protagonist, the pornstar has some level of morality and refuses to take part in such a disturbing situation; but Vukmir has other plans, and the sexual violence begins when the abused woman fiercely bites down on Miloš’s erect penis in order to force him to continue. Realising that his ‘star’ is losing faith in the project, Vukmir attempts to explain his vision by showing Miloš possibly the most psychologically disturbing and universally offensive clip ever released to man: his henchman Raša (Miodrag Krčmarik) delivering an unidentified woman’s baby in a creepy room and, well… I won’t ‘spoil’ it for you.
It is at this point that the movie really kicks into top gear; it is at this point that the movie begins to really destroy the boundaries of morality, believability, and even legality. Our lead character is seduced and drugged by one of Vukmir’s sleazy slut doctors, and wakes up three days later with bruises, cuts and no recollection of the lost time. Returning to the ‘set’ he watches a number of tapes which fill in the blanks, revealing that a lot of extremely nasty things have happened to him in the last 72 hours. The pinnacle of this is the most disgusting scene in movie history ever; and while I won’t ruin (I use the word lightly and ironically) it for you, I will explain it like so — take rape, murder, sadomasochism and necrophilia, mix it all together, and imagine the result on your television screen. In the realm of unnecessarily horrifying and extreme-for-the-sake-of-it moviemaking, one almost has to applaud the effect of this scene, in between the uncontrollable regurgitation of your breakfast, lunch and dinner, of course. Miloš watches two more videos, the content of which would have been massively disgusting were it not for aforementioned ‘grossest scene ever’; essentially it’s more rape and murder, with a helping of sodomy for good measure.
And so, as viewers gasp on the floor for air, roll around in the contents of their own stomachs and scream at whoever’s idea it was to watch this, A Serbian Film finally delivers its pièce de résistance. As if what had transpired already wasn’t disturbing enough, Spasojević has one more plot twist up his sleeve, warranting of an infinitely and forever disturbing scene which, to be fair to the man, was directed and shot extremely well. It sounds as if I’m repeating myself, but this final scene really is disturbing to the extreme. Finally though, after a gross realisation, our ‘hero’ lets loose and kicks some ass. He kills everyone in sight, including the twisted director and his henchmen, the final one with his ‘tool’. The ending of the film is tragically moving, but is ultimately a message of redemption. Until one unnecessary line at the very end which is the final nail in the coffin.
When the film is over, I guarantee you will not be able to move or speak for at least a minute. A Serbian Film is extremely effective at what is attempted, and for that Spasojević must be applauded — right? Who knows. All I know is that this film is ridiculous: it is the most disgusting and disturbing film I’ve ever seen or heard of, and most of the scenes are over-the-top unnecessarily. It’s supposed to be a metaphor for how the Serbian government treats its citizens — raped from birth to death, and then some more (apparently). Either way, I guarantee you won’t need to watch this again after the first viewing.
A Serbian Film (2010), directed by Srđan Spasojević, is available on DVD and Blu-ray from Revolver Entertainment, certificate 18. Prospective viewers are advised to read the consumer advice from the British Board of Film Classification before deciding to watch the film.