Greetings and salutations. Welcome to the first weekly Goth Art Review, where I will be reviewing films, books, and other media pertaining to goth culture. I apologize to my regular readers, absent though you may be, for my lack of content the past months. But, now I return to expand your minds, force my opinion upon you, and generally bore you with my trivial presence. I’m so excited!
This week, the film on the review board is A Serbian Film, a film that embodies the concept of horror exploitation, as long as your concept is the same as mine and, therefore, accurate. Directed by Srdjan Spasojevic, the film depicts Milos, a retired porn star portrayed by Srdjan Todorovic, and his misadventures in pursuit of unimaginable fortune. Struggling to support his wife and child, Milos is connected to a child psychologist-turned-independent film director Vukmir, played by actor Sergej Trifunovic, by a mutual confidant. Some mild persuation and the promise of vast wealth convinces Milos to contract himself out to the artistic expression of Vukmir, a mistake that dismantles the simple existence Milos had created for himself and small family.
A Serbian Film met with numerous opposition from national governments as it toured the world’s independent film festival circuit. Before its debut showing at the South by Southwest festival in Austin, Texas, on March 15, 2010, event organizer invited audience members onto the stage to join him in a series of activities designed to make them feel the emotional and psychological of Serbians existing in a culture of abuse, corruption, and oppression. Organizer and guests snorted lines of salt, squeezed lime juice into their eyes, and drank a shot of tequila. Painful as that may have been, at least they weren’t asked to endure one of the Twilight films. Sparkle, sparkle.
After it debut, the Serbian government, likely under duress from external censorship groups, initiated an investigation of the filmmakers. The film’s depictions of sexual crimes were of such a graphic nature that its fictionality was questionable. Also, a prosecutor in Spain filed charges against the organizer of the Stiges Film Festival after the film was shown to an adult-only audience, claiming it violated child pornography laws. Though both of these legal inquiries were found to be erroneous and dismissed, the film remains banned in Norway, Brazil, Australia, New Zealand, Malaysia, and Singapore. An edited version of the film, containing 4 to 13 minutes less of footage, is available for viewing in Germany and Great Britain. The uncut version of the film, in all of its grotesque and offensive glory, was released on DVD in the United States by Invincible Pictures on October 22, 2012.
WARNING: SPOILER ALERT. If you wish to watch this film without prior knowledge of its most offensive scenes, I suggest you do not read the remainder of the article.
The opening scene sets the mood for the entire film, making the audience feel uncomfortable and awkward before they can even get settled into their seats. Open scene. A small television. Our yet unknown hero is engaging in sexual congress with a busty female, leaving nothing to the imagination. But, who is watching this film? Certainly not a young boy, aged 5 or 6 years. Well, my dear readers, certainty can be a heartless devil. Hark! Here come the parents to rescue this child from such filth. And enter our hero, the child’s father and star of the pornography blaring from the television set. Ahh…doesn’t that leave a warm feeling inside?
After a few odd experiences, including receiving oral sex while watching a young girl, supposedly the giver’s daughter, sucking a lollipop, Milos decides that the direction this film was taking is too much for his moral convictions and chooses to terminate his contract and participation. Scene transition. Vukmir is lecturing Milos on the importance and beauty of his pornographic art, desperately trying to convince his star to remain. Once his monologue is complete, Vukmir dims the lights and on a projection screen appears a woman in active labor, lying on a grimy steel table and being assisted by a large bald man. She proceeds to give birth a live and healthy baby, and the man, cradling the baby in his arms, begins to have sexual intercourse with the infant. As Milos flees from the room in utter disgust, Vukmir repeatedly shouts the name of the genre he created, “Newborn porn!”
Scene open. Milos awakes in his house covered in bloody and in a state of confusion. He had unknowingly been drugged during his meeting with Vukmir and, through the course of retracing his steps, the events of the previous night are replayed for the audience. To his astonishment, he had been forced to hack his female compatriot in the film to death with a machete whilst he forcibly engaged in sexual relations with her. Of course, the final exploitative scene in the film is the one targeted most often by censorship groups and, hence, is the most important to present to my dear readers.
Another flashback. Milos is found masturbating furiously in an alleyway, still suffering from the effects of the drugs, by Vukmir’s thugs and taken to a warehouse where Vukmir and others await their star. On the ground in front of several video cameras, two persons lie face down. They are covered with white sheets with only their bums exposed. Thugs 1 and 2 position Milos in front of the smaller person, and he begins to ferociously penetrate the person, causing blood to trickle and pool. Enter masked man, who kneels next to Milos and engages in the same bestial act with the other body. After a few minutes, Vukmir leans forward and removes the mask from Milos’ partner. It’s his brother! Vukmir removes the sheet from the person Milos’ brother is raping. It’s his wife! Vukmir removes the sheet from the person Milos is raping, steps back, and says, “A Serbian family reunion.” It’s his son!
I’m choosing not to reveal the final sequences of the film to you, my readers. Needless to say, this film is definitely worth watching. It’s grimy cinematography is perfect for an exploitation film with such atrocities and perverse depictions of the human potential for debauchery. Srdjan Todorovic’s acting and portrayal of Milos was intense, beautiful, and realistic. His facial expressions revealed more shock, awe, and disgust than words could ever project. I recommend this film to any fan of horror and exploitation films, stipulating that one can disassociate the fictional nature of the film from their surrounding reality.
I award A Serbian Film with five stars!