5 of 7 people found the following review helpful
Disturbing Beyond Words,
Curiosity has always been my primary reason for discovering, watching, and analyzing unique things; including of course films. I can only think of a few occasions where my curiosity drew me toward something I wish I didn't experience. A Serbian Film is one of those films and probably along with Salò the only actual work of fiction. It troubled me. Something about my mood just wasn't the same a day after watching it. I've seen August Underground's Mordum, Slaughtered Vomit Dolls, Irreversible, Sweet Movie, The Baby of Macon, the Guinea Pig films, Men Behind The Sun, and many more. Those are all hard movies to watch but this was different. This put my mind at intense unease and put an uncomfortable feeling in my gut. It could be akin to viewing such non-fiction atrocities like the Dagestan massacre video at the beginning of the Second Chechnyan War or the Dnepropetrovsk maniacs in the Ukraine who video-taped and photographed their killing spree in 2007 (one video of which made it to the internet). That's how unsettling A Serbian Film was, but in the spirit of William Castle and Wes Craven, remember and repeat; it's only a movie, it's only a movie.
A Serbian Film is also not necessarily out of the realm of possibility despite having scenes that are uncalled for and at times just laughably deranged or absurd. I simply wish I could somehow erase A Serbian Film from my memory. With those kinds of warnings I'm sure many hardcore gore fanatics are now curious while reading this, but I strongly caution that even you absolutely do not want to see A Serbian Film.
Milos is a former porn star with a wife and a young boy. His life has obstacles, most of which is probably his brother who seems to fancy Milos's wife, but it all changes when Milos is given a very high paying job offer for more pornographic work, with a catch that he is not to know what is going to happen as the film is made. The film's director is extreme to say the least and Milos finds himself in a world of child pornography, necrophilia, rape, and even outright snuff films. Needless to say the film's arc lends itself to some shocking images but even with that in mind the film goes far enough that we have to think is it being intentionally controversial and provocative. It wants you to hear someone say its the most horrific film ever made but it is intelligent enough to not only get away with accusations of being gratuitous in some circles, but it is also intelligent enough to enhance its horror with great efficiency. The story itself also plays on the urban legend of snuff films of course, and even though that has been done before, it is done far better here. I've always wondered if there could be a market for sick films like that and this film's very existence and potential for success might make a case that there is. Strangely enough and strictly on a technical level all around, A Serbian Film is actually pretty well done.
There are messages in A Serbian Film that probably have merit. The idea that it reflects a self-deprecating view of its namesake country, the paranoia toward its authorities, and possible general moral decay there are present in the film, but I simply do not buy the idea that its messages warrant this degree of shocking content. I don't find it too surprising that some viewers will find that enough to justify its gore and sexual transgressions, so perhaps you may if you decide to challenge yourself with seeing this movie. But that I can assure you that is a pointless exercise and this kind of shock value is of little to no value at all. Do not see A Serbian Film. Seriously, you will likely regret it.
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Showing 1-10 of 16 posts in this discussion
Initial post: Apr 3, 2011 8:37:26 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 3, 2011 8:38:20 AM PDT
H. Schneider says:
I have a vague notion what you are talking about.
I am surprised at how many words you find for your disgust. Well done!
The reference to Salo means the film, right? I was so fed up after 10 minutes with that one, that I stopped it.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 6, 2011 7:31:18 PM PDT
Thanks and yes, Salo or the 120 days of sodom from the Maruis De Sade. Horrifying indeed, but at least significant. It ruined my lunch for a few days. :)
Posted on Apr 6, 2011 8:36:03 PM PDT
Amazon Customer says:
An excellent review. I agree that too much shock value "is of little or no value". Well said. I will avoid this film.
Thank you for the review.
Posted on Apr 27, 2011 9:19:17 PM PDT
so stoked to check out your last three films you reviewed, including this one. Damn, been a new york minute man lol. Glad you are still reviewing. Since you say not to see it, now I so must see it, its really gnawing at me now after reading your review, twice.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 29, 2011 8:06:08 PM PDT
I've heard both types of reviews about this film. One, it's a piece of shock cinema with no artistic value at all, or, it's a great film that talks about the depravity in Serbia (and the former Yugoslavia). It's playing for 2 weeks in NYC in May, and I may still check it out. Not sure, yet.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2011 11:19:24 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 30, 2011 11:20:33 AM PDT
Thanks for the kind words Ken (good to hear from you) and W. Easley.
And GG, keep in mind the version receiving limited release stateside is edited considerably (I've heard from different sources that anywhere from four to eight minutes will be cut). I personally see both sides of the debate and I think this review leans more toward I mixed review than a two star. It does have a thing or two to say for sure. Thanks for the feedback.
In reply to an earlier post on Apr 30, 2011 1:07:23 PM PDT
Last edited by the author on Apr 30, 2011 1:08:31 PM PDT
The theater that's carrying it says it's been rated NC-17 by the MPAA, so maybe it's the full length version. We'll see. Don't like to see cut versions of anything.
In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2011 6:32:03 AM PDT
Last edited by the author on May 21, 2011 6:36:24 AM PDT
Amazon Customer says:
The uncut version of "A Serbian Film"runs 104 minutes and isn't available anywhere on DVD as of yet unless you buy a bootleg of a screener copy. Any version released by Invincible Pictures in the US is cut (unrated version currently available on Flixfling). The unrated version only by about 1 minute. The NC-17 version has 4 or 5 minutes cut just to get the rating. The British cut version which I bought thinking it was uncut isn't worth it and my opinion of the NC-17 version is the same. I ended up watching the uncut version online and I love extreme films (Niku Daruma (aka Tumbling Doll of Flesh, aka Pshycho the snuff reels), Guinea Pig series, August Underground trilogy) and did like this movie but I understood the subtext about society.
In reply to an earlier post on May 21, 2011 9:52:18 AM PDT
I just saw the movie myself a few days ago in a theater in NYC. It was the NC-17 version, but the running time was listed at 104 minutes, which is the same length as the uncut version. I must have seen the original cut.
Regardless, it's a film I won't be seeing again. It started out well (and even had some moments of gallows humour), but it just got nasty for its own sake as it wore on, and ended up being really predictable (surprisingly). I've seen many extreme films and like them very much (Salo, In a Glass Cage, Ichi the Killer), but those films had a strong artistic point of view and weren't "in my face" like this film was.
As for the "political subtext" that the director has mentioned, I don't buy it. I think he's just saying that to justify the fact that he made an old fashioned exploitation film, except in Serbian. He's trying to make it sound deeper than it actually is.
In reply to an earlier post on May 24, 2011 2:26:00 PM PDT
I obtained it online as well but I just couldn't find an appropriate entry on Amazon to place my review. I definitely saw the original cut though. It was extreme.
I'm tickled by some of the titles you mention (i.e. Tumbling Doll of Flesh). I've added them to my memory as titles to watch out for.