I watch a lot of extreme films, from Alienteur to Come and See, August Underground to the Guinea Pig series... it’s a long list. At this point I’m a bit jaded. It’s not often that a film comes around that shocks me, but this is one of them: A Serbian Film is definitely in the top five most disturbing films I’ve ever seen. You may feel like your soul needs a shower after watching this one.
The real surprise is that beyond the shocking and profoundly disgusting content matter, A Serbian Film is actually a well-made film with some sympathetic characters, which really increased the revulsion I felt while watching what they go through.
Milos (Srdjan Todorovic) is a semi-retired Serbian porn star, living happily with his wife and young son. His wife doesn’t disapprove of his somewhat sordid past; she actually seems to find it rather attractive as long as their kid isn’t watching his dad’s films. His only real problem is that he isn’t making that much money.
Along comes an old co-star who makes him an offer he can’t quite turn down: one more film, which will pay enough to support his family for life. Milos discusses the offer with his wife and she encourages him to check it out.
His prospective employer sends a car to pick him up and then makes him the offer: he won’t get to see the script of the film, but the director will give him direction via an earpiece. The director wants to make a cinematic porn masterpiece and refuses to let the actors in on what’s going to happen so that it will all appear natural.
Milos isn’t too enthusiastic about the setup: a creepy boss who seems to be employing thugs who’d be more at home in a Serbian mob than acting as camera men, the creepy mansion/institutional location of the shoot… but he really wants the money, so he decides to give it a try. Let this be a warning to anyone who wants to get into acting, even in a porno: Always Read The Script.
I won’t reveal more of the plot or give details on why the movie is so profoundly revolting; not only would that spoil the film for viewers, but I just don’t want to write down some of the details. Or talk to anyone about them. I’ve sat through torture porn flicks, I’ve seen necrophilia in films like Aftermath, watched too many rape/revenge films to list, and I have to say the only film that has ever bothered me this much was Come and See (and that was for very different reasons).
If you’ve got a cast-iron stomach and think you can take on the most disturbing things cinema has to throw at you, you may appreciate A Serbian Film, if only because it sets out to do something and thoroughly accomplishes it. It’s revolting, well-made, disgusting, and powerful, and I think it would take a disturbed mind to create this film. I’ll be interested in seeing what he does next. I’m not sorry I watched A Serbian Film, but I don’t think I will ever watch it again.