Friday, March 4, 2011

A Serbian Film -- AKA Srpksi Film (2010)

Fear 0/5
Gore 5/5
Entertainment 1/5
Creepiness 2/5

I can’t recall another horror/exploitation film garnering as much attention in the past few years, heck even decade, as this one has. Can you? Forget the story, it’s been pretty much painted as an endurance test among genre fans and cinephiles alike. But is there substance to the actual film? Regardless of political allegory (which I believe to be suspect), does the film have anything to offer the viewer? Read on.

Most people who’ve followed the film or have read about its infamy, know of the basic storyline. But just in case you’re unaware, here it is: retired porn star and family man Milos is given an offer he can’t refuse. A new style of performance art pornography is set to go into production with the effort being lead by a mysterious man named Vukmir. At first, Milos is reluctant. Promises of a life that will be forever taken care of tempt him, while at the same time, he's also reminded of the current financial struggles that his family faces. The promise of never ending fortune becomes too much for him to pass up. Once the dotted line is signed and he to goes to work, we become sickened by the unspeakable horrors that Milos is asked to commit.

The horrors of this film are well documented and the most notorious scenes are described in great detail on other sites. So I won’t go into that here. If you're really interested, a quick Google search returns many results. What I will say is that, while the extremity of the situations and the acts being asked to commit were certainly gruesome and disgusting, none of them really justified either point the film was/is trying to make. A diatribe about life and society is given by Vukmir when Milos is ready to walk away early on. His point and the point of the film (at least for me) is completely negated when he says that really all he’s trying to do is create a new sub-genre, ‘newborn porn.’ Again, I think this aspect of the film is completely suspect.

If we take the film at face value for what it is trying to portray, the slipping of one man to the point where he completely loses touch with reality, that is also a hard sell as we aren’t really painted a picture of a family that is truly struggling. At the beginning, we see them in their nice home (a mansion by most peoples standards), completely furnished and without bare. Other than the couple simply saying that they have money problems, the only time we see anything that physically amounts to issues with finances and falling on hard times is when Milos reluctantly digs into his pant pocket to fork over some money for his son’s piano lessons. So daddy goes on a disgusting, drug fueled, murderous and psychotic sex rampage for some piano lessons? I’m not trying to oversimplify things here but that’s essentially what the film boils down to. I didn’t really get the feeling that the family was in that dire of a situation and as a result, the ends didn't justify the means.

As such, with about 20 min. left in the film, I just wanted it to be over with. There was no point at all to any of the onscreen madness. If you want to experience a similar film that is shocking with a much better painted picture of sickness and depravity, and it even has a redemptive quality about it, keep yours eyes peeled for a film called The Bunny Game (review here and filmmaker interview here). It will stay with you long after the credits roll unlike A Serbian Film which I've already forgotten about.

Cortez the Killer


Strange Kid said...

Finally! Someone who sees past the hype of this film!

Thank you for such an honest review, James. Beyond the hype of the more graphic scenes, which gorehounds will certainly pine over, there was little to no redeemable value that I could find here. Next...

Robert Ring said...

Nice review, Cortez. This is one of those hyped, over-the-top horror films that I never really cared to make the effort to watch, as I suspected much of what you said to be true. Extreme sadism and violence supposedly made poignant by a story and a theme that don't ultimately do anything to elevate it beyond simple extreme sadism and violence.

I read, for instance, that the director explained the infamous newborn scene as a metaphor for how society rapes us. That sounds fine, but if you think about it, how is that a meaningful parallel?

MothRust said...

When I was a good little 'Christian' kid I used to watch horror movies to feel 'naughty', and sometimes I'd feel ashamed of myself for watching and enjoying a good gorefest. As an adult, and a non-Christian adult, I felt ashamed to be watching this movie, and I didn't admit to watching it. Nasty rotten film.

John J Sears said...

Eh, I disagree, but I disagreed on Twitter too so I won't rehash it too much, except to say that I think the entire point of the movie is to question whether or not a person, a culture, a nation, in this case all three being Serbian, can be broken beyond repair. The main character doesn't get into this mess because he needs money, he gets into this situation because, deep down, he's become the violent sex-crazed porn star he portrayed, at least a little. All of which is probably intended as political allegory, if not propaganda or apologia, for bloody recent Serbian history. Given that the movie questions the very possibility of redemption, I can't fault it for not having any. Serbia hasn't found its redemption on the world stage yet, either.

the jaded viewer said...

I wrote in my review the filmmakers had to make a exploitation and shocking film in order to explain their metaphoric message about the plight of the Serbs.

Would you watch this if it was a documentary about Serbia?

It's pretty extreme but you can read into whether or not its trying to say something or not. I believe it was and why I made it my #1 horror movie of 2010.

Juts my 2 cents.

The Film Connoisseur said...

I havent watched it because of the premise, it just looks to me like a film thats trying to shock for shocks sake, if its not really trying to say something, then its not worth it. Unlike Antichrist, which was shocking, but had a message behind it.

Cortez The Killer said...

@StrangeKid, thanks. There is absolutely no redeemable value to this film whatsoever.

@Robert, glad to see you. It's been awhile. Agreed, how is that a meaningful parallel/set of images? And if you have to go into that great of a detail to describe your rationale, doesn't it negate the whole purpose?

@MothRust, definitely nasty and I wouldn't recommend it to anyone, redeemable value or not.

@John, I was hoping you'd come on here and share your two cents. I appreciate it, thanks.

I think there is a fine line between being a sexual pervert/miscreant and adding violence to the equation. I didn't get that Milos was a violent person at all. So when the onscreen madness ensued, I didn't find any of it justifiable or fitting within the context of who he was as a person at all.

@Jaded, I appreciate your viewpoint as well. I get that something has to be shocking sometimes in order to get a certain viewpoint across but how, in any way, did any of the onscreen craziness that went down convey any sort of political atrocity or mistreatment whatsoever? And again, when Vukmir makes a statement that all he wants to do is create a new sub genre, doesn't that negate or belittle the point?

@TFC, I did feel like it was trying to be shocking for shock's sake and there was no substance to it whatsoever. I thought AntiChrist was great because it did have a method to its madness. It was shocking but it actually had a point to it. This however, did not.

Cal (YB) said...

Never been bothered to check this out just seems gratuitous, sick and pointless. Your comments agree with my assumption