Follow Us on Twitter

A Serbian Film - Review

A Serbian Film

Review by Jack Foley

IndieLondon Rating: 0 out of 5

SRDJAN Spasojevic, the director of the now notorious A Serbian Film, describes his shocker as “a diary of our own molestation by the Serbian government”.

He continues: “It’s about the monolithic power of leaders who hypnotise you to do things you don’t want to do. You have to feel the violence to know what it’s about.”
The violence in question includes scenes of multiple rape, mutilation and the infamous rape of a newborn baby. It prompts the obvious question in ‘is it really necessary’?

Ironically, perhaps the most insulting aspect of Spasojevic’s film is its claim that it serves as a political metaphor that has something to say about the way Serbian people were treated by their government. Yes, there are brief nods to it in conversations, while I don’t doubt that numerous and repeated atrocities have been dealt to its people (including some of the things the director subjects us to on screen).

But wrapping such statements within the confines of a horror movie that uses porn and Hostel-style gore as its biggest selling points suggests the director has shot himself in the foot (or, perhaps, another appendage!).

His film smacks of hysteria and plays wildly over the top, so as to negate anything serious the director has to say. It’s also grotesque in the extreme.

Had he made a film that concentrated on the real events he seeks to comment upon, his comments may have more credence. Instead, it’s hard to imagine anyone other than extreme horror fans and porn lovers taking anything away from the experience… or even wanting to see it.

And that’s not even considering the often overlooked statement [in movies at least] that the scariest things [and most thought-provoking] are those that are left to the imagination. The power of suggestion can haunt every bit – if not more – than some people’s need to show everything.

Spasojevic, far from kick-starting a worthwhile debate about ‘the political, moral and psychological downfall of Serbia’ – has merely succeeded in re-firing the age old debate about censorship in cinema and how far should movies be allowed to go.

In A Serbian Film’s case, that is too far… even with the infamous cuts that have been imposed (the most the BBFC has ever imposed). And the result just smacks of censor baiting.

The plot follows a retired porn star, turned family man, who is lured back into the business by a lucrative deal that could set him up for life. He is not, however, allowed to know what fate befalls him.

Once drawn into the world, however, there is no escape and after attempting to do so, the actor wakes up three days later, covered in blood, and attempting to work out what took place – scenes of appalling acts that unfold via flashback.

Over the course of 90-plus minutes, audiences must endure scenes of women being humiliated, raped and butchered, men being anally raped, decapitation, murder, necrophilia and paedophilia – some of which, thankfully, has either been censored heavily or take place just off camera.

In between, there are various musings on the state of Serbia, coupled with insights into porn and sexual performance. It would be a vulgar laughing stock if the director didn’t want us to take it seriously.

In the final analysis, though, A Serbian Film abjectly fails to achieve its stated aim and succeeds wholly in its suspected one of becoming one of the most notorious films ever made.

But for those willing to brave what lies in store (and, really, why you might feel the need is beyond me), it’s worth considering this one final comment: you don’t so much experience A Serbian Film as suffer it.

Certificate: 18
Running time: 95mins
UK Release Date: December 10, 2010