aka Srpski film
Director: Srdjan Spasojevic
Disk Extras: NONE but includes Digital Copy
Art throughout the centuries has been fueled by pain, strife, oppression and quite frankly, mental illness. In art, you are able to convey feelings that you are often not able to put into words. Music, photography, painting and filmmaking are perfect avenues for those artistically inclined and in need of release to banish the inner demons they so often hold inside. Political oppression can be a powerful conduit for such creative energy. Serbia, a country in central-southeast Europe, is scarred with continuous political turmoil and is ripe with artistic energies and writer/director Srdjan Spasojevic, along with fellow writer and well known Serbian film critic Aleksandar Radivojevic, are right there to pick the crop.
Milos is a semi-retired, highly regarded porn star with a wife and young son who he desperately loves. Although he doesn’t star in features anymore, he does take the occasional cameo role or small parts to make a little money to support his family. One day he takes a meeting with an old co-star who says she has a comeback starring role for him with a man named Vukmir who will pay him lots of money for the part. Milos meets with the mysterious filmmaker who tells him that the role is for a porn star of his caliber but wouldn’t tell him about the film or what he would be doing in it. After thinking about it for a short time, Milos takes the job and on his first day, finds out that this movie is very, very different.
The film crew follows him around with cameras and puts him in situations to see how he will react. Violence and pedophilia are on tap and soon Milos quits. Vukmir is not a man you can so easily quit as the porn star finds out after waking up in his bed, bloodied and beaten. With no memory of how much time has passed or what has transpired, Milos goes back to the set and finds lots of tapes. His journey of discovering what led up to his amnesia begins with realizing he had been drugged and made to do unspeakable things against his will. Seeing himself rape, beat and viciously murder women drives him over the edge and he wants to find Vukmir and his henchmen to make them pay, but not before one last performance.
Director Srdjan Spasojevic has released his demons into this movie. You feel his blood and rage in every frame from the opening scene to the very last shock. Being a fan of “extreme” cinema, I don’t know if I have ever experienced anything like Srpski film. To list names of other “shocking” films wouldn’t convey the level of intensity, insanity or depravity on display here. There is no sense of irony, shlock, fun or mirth, only rage in its purest form. I’m not going to go into the details of the specific scenes of licentiousness in the second act and forward, because I think it would only take away from the effect they have on the viewer. The performance from Srdjan Todorovic as “Milos” is one of the most terrifying and sympathetic in recent memory. “Vukmir”, played by Sergej Trifunovic, couldn’t have been more demonic. In fact, though played completely serious, the entire film had a surreal, almost supernatural feel to it. That’s how impassioned the story and players were.
Often times in movies of this ilk, they are low budget, poorly directed and acted affairs that are only meant to showcase the make-up artists’ talents and the filmmaker’s sick mind with no regard for actual artistic talent. And let’s face it, those movies are a fucking blast to watch, but sometimes you need something a little more substantial. A Serbian Film is a well crafted thriller that just happens to contain some of the most hard to watch scenes ever filmed. It is a beautiful movie to watch through the fog of gore and sexual deviance. The lighting, direction and cinematography is invigorating, and the pacing is genius. I won’t soon forget this film as it permeates my brain and sets up camp just torturing me with the memories of what I saw. Don’t go into watching this with your jaded gore-fiend bravado, go into this with your eyes open to the art on display.
The blu-ray release from little known indie film distributor Invincible Films is pretty impressive as far as picture and sound quality. The movie was shot to look drab and unimpressive with muted colors and bleak set-pieces. Aside from minimal problems with black tones in a couple of scenes, the HD transfer really brings out the despair in the production. Apparently the reason the release looks so good is the use of a Red High Definition Digital Camera which, not being a filmmaker, I had never heard of but from doing a little research, it is a dope piece of movie making machinery. The original DTS-HD 2.0 sounds crisp and clean but unfortunately, there are zero special features on the blu-ray. There is around one minute cut from this release and if memory serves me, the baby raping scene and the teeth pulling scenes are the only things to take a hacking from the original film. If anyone noticed something else cut, please leave a comment below. Even being ever-so-slightly “cut”, this is still one of the most brutal and beautiful movies ever made so it deserves to live in your collection.