The obscene amount of hype surrounding A Serbian Film has been impossible to ignore for the last year in the horror scene. The reaction has been mixed critically, but virtually everyone who has seen the film admits that it’s one of the more gruesome films ever made.
After finally viewing it, I have to agree: A Serbian Film is one of the most disturbing and gruesome movies I have ever watched. But to put this in the same category as The Human Centipede should be a criminal offense. A Serbian Film is an artistic endeavor into the depravity of the human psyche, while The Human Centipede is shit (eating) for shits (eatings) sake.
In this undoubtedly controversial movie, Milos, a porn star looking to get out of the game, agrees to make one last “art film” for the porn genre because it will mean that he and his family are set for the rest of their lives. The catch, because there is always a catch when it comes to obscene amounts of money, is that Milos doesn’t get to see the script, or know the story. Instead he is to simply get into a car that will pick him up on the first day of filming. What follows is a nightmarish world that is beyond comprehension.
Many defenders of A Serbian Film will claim that the director was going for parody and not sincerity. Though I can see where an attempt may have been made at parody (mostly in the character of Vukmir, the porn director), A Serbian Film falls flat in that category. The actor’s play every role with depth, heart, and sincerity, and so little of it plays as a parody to me. If that was the director’s intention, he missed the mark.
Rather than parody, A Serbian Film feels more like an incredibly hostile and graphic attempt at some larger message. What is that message? I’m not quite sure, which is not exactly a compliment.
Where this movie succeeds is in creating a likable porn star with a beautiful family, and then proceeding to tear that apart, bloody, disgusting scene by bloody, disgusting scene. Does it go too far? For some, absolutely. But no matter what A Serbian Film does, it’s still a movie with paid actors, fake blood, and multiple takes, not a snuff film, so I could handle what I was watching.
That said, I am glad I was alone while watching this because I don’t know anyone else in my personal life who would’ve sat through this entire movie.
A Serbian Film goes a ton of places that most movies wouldn’t dream of going, and while that alone doesn’t make it good or bad, I admire the fact that the director “goes there”, and then stays there for 102 minutes, and delivers an engaging story along the way. It’s not gore for gore’s sake, unlike The Human Centipede. There’s a story of a family being told, and even though I would never recommend anyone watch this – I hope those interested would do so on their own accord – it’s still a solid movie.
Note that I watched the Unrated American Blu-ray release that runs 102 minutes because – at the time – the original, uncut version (running 104 minutes in length) was not readily available. That has since changed, and I have included links to purchase both versions below. The first Amazon link is for the Unrated American Blu-ray, and the second Amazon link for the original, uncut DVD. Proceed at your own risk.
Branden has been a film fan since he was young, roaming the halls of Blockbuster Video, trying to find the grossest, scariest looking VHS covers to rent and watch alone in the basement. It wasn’t until recently, though, that Branden started seeking out the classics of cinema, and began to develop his true passion for the art form. Branden approaches each film with the unique perspective of having studied the art from the inside, having both a bachelor’s and master’s degree in acting. He has been a film critic since 2010, and has previously written for Inside Pulse Movies, We Love Cult, and Diehard Gamefan. His biggest achievement as a film critic, to date, has been founding Cinefessions and turning it from a personal blog to a true film website, housing hundreds of film and television reviews, and dozens of podcasts.