A Serbian Film (aka Српски филм / Srpski film)
(2010, Written by Aleksandar Radivojevic and Srdjan Spasojevic, Directed by Srdjan Spasojevic)
The second film on this year's list that I did not find scary in anyway (normally a prerequisite for this thing) A Serbian Film is garnering mention because quite simply, it is without a doubt, hands down, one of the riskiest films with thee biggest set of balls to come down the genre pipeline in ages and then some (and yes, we do occasionally reward pure audaciousness here). Certainly by now, you all know the infamous story. Aging porn star Miloš (Srdjan Todorovic, one of the bravest, just go for it performances in horror movie history) agrees to participate in an erotic "art film" in order to make a clean break from the business, only to discover too late that he has been drafted into making a snuff film of such epic proportions, that by filming's end there will be no twisted taboos left unexplored (as if snuff wasn't twisted enough, well as it turns out, not anymore, not in 2010). Nor is there any seeming escape from his contract.
Much has been made of the film's controversial content (noted here and here), and even more of a fuss has been made over whether or not the film warrants depicting said content. I say "yes", resoundingly. And while I never wholly bought into director / screenwriter Srdjan Spasojevic's explanation that the story (and said graphic depictions of sexual violence) was a retort to Serbia's sordid political past and present and its effects on its people (really, such a claim would be have to be damn near buried underneath the film's depraved eroticism if it's there at all), I do think that the film in and of itself, is socially relevant. I've spent enough time in my young adult life prowling through the shadowy realms of internet message boards and chat forums, to know that thousands of people exist that routinely fantasize about things much sicker than anything even this film has the courage to tackle (which perhaps is a good thing). So whether or not A Serbian Film ultimately has anything of relevance to say about Serbia itself, is debatable. Does it have many hard truths to tell about mankind's darkest, most inhumane desires? Without a doubt (I'm partial to the scene that depicts the young girl licking her popsicle on a series of televisions as a means of subtly tempting Miloš, for example) .
Perhaps under less talented guidance as that brought to the project by Spasojevic, A Serbian Film would have gone on to be just another obscure footnote in the genre's history, known only to completists and connoisseurs of extreme cinema. As undoubtedly additional, like-minded, cheapie exploitation films of this magnitude exist. But are they this good? This competently directed? Hell no. Despite the gruesomeness on display, there is intelligence here. There is also warmth (Miloš' tender family life, and the subsequent destruction of it, is the film's sole tether to the world of sanity and it's chief representation of morality that, truth, it kind of has the responsibility to depict amongst such spiraling madness), Nemanja Jovanov's gorgeously composed cinematography, chicly realized style and excellent performances across the board. In short, a lot more substance and food for thought than you usually get from these kinds of films. However, despite the pretty packaging, A Serbian Film is still one of the most grisly, disgusting, out-of-its-damn-mind and shocking films you are likely to ever see and for those reasons alone, it deserves a place on last year's "best of" list. In fact, despite many other those films being much more worthy of classic status for more respectable and way less savory reasons, if I had to hedge a bet which of our selected thirteen titles would go down in horror history as a "masterpiece" later on down the line, it would be this one. Even if it's purely for shock value alone (sometimes things have a way working out like that don't they).
However, my recommendation to watch A Serbian Film can't even extend to the very bravest amongst you. It would probably be too much for even that set (that's not a reason to seek it out either). No, in good conscious I think that the only ones I'd advise to give this film a shot would be the most jaded folks that pass through this site. As it it, many peers of mine have been making statements such as "If you are one of the few who liked this movie, I don't even think that I want to know you." Well deviant that I am, I liked this movie. Hate away. I'll be busy eagerly waiting for a proper release here in the states. Until then, may I suggest that you take a very long pause and contemplate whether or not you want to tumble down this extremely dark rabbit hole.
A Serbian Film stars Srdjan Todorovic (Top je bio vreo, Vratice se rode), Sergej Trifunovic (Doctor Ray and the Devils, The Raven), Jelena Gavrilovic (Cat Run, Human Zoo), Katarina Zutic (Zajedno) and Slobodan Bestic (Zivot je mars) and due out soon on DVD and Blu-Ray from Invincible Pictures.
5 Skulls - The Best
4 Skulls - Very Good
3 Skulls - Good / Average
2 Skulls - Poor
1 Skull - The Worst