A Serbian Film (18)

The View Review

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Review byMatthew Turner09/12/2010

Three out of Five stars
Running time: 100 mins

Controversial and deliberately provocative, this Serbian horror contains some abhorrent imagery that is every bit as upsetting as the reviews would have you believe; but it's also well made, well acted and is more or less successful in making its political point.

What's it all about?
Directed by Srdjan Spasojevic, A Serbian Film stars Srdjan Todorovic as Milos, a retired porn star who lives a contented life with his wife Layla (Jelena Gavrilovic), although neither of them seem too concerned when they discover their adorable young son Petar (Luka Mijatovic) watching his father's back catalogue. When Milos meets an old co-star (Katarina Zutic), she convinces him to take on one last job for a huge fee and Milos accepts after Layla agrees that he should do it.

There is however, a catch: Milos' wealthy director Vukmir (Sergej Trifunovic) insists that he's making a new kind of porn and that Milos shouldn't know anything about the film before each scene begins. However, as each successive scene becomes more and more disturbing, Milos begins to wonder exactly what he's got himself into.

The Good
The performances are extremely good: Todorovic brings a taciturn, hangdog quality to Milos that works well, while Trifunovic is suitably creepy as Vukmir. There's also strong support from Gavrilovic and Mijatovic, while Slobodan Bestic contributes an edgy, unsettling turn as Milos' jealous brother Marko.

The horrific scenes are deliberately shocking and genuinely repulsive, even after the 49 separate cuts imposed by the BBFC (totalling four minutes and 12 seconds); they are certainly not designed to titillate – if anything, the film has more in common with an artistically minded horror film like Martyrs rather than the gleefully salivating torture porn brigade. It's probably best not to reveal specific details so as to preserve the shock value (suffocation, incest, rape and necrophilia are all involved), but let's just say that the effects work is excellent and a full plot description is available via an internet search.

The Bad
Spasojevic describes the film as “a diary of our own molestation by the Serbian government – it's about the monolithic power of leaders who hypnotise you to do things you don't want to do.” To be fair, the allegorical nature of the film is clear throughout and it is more or less successful in making its point, even though you might argue that a straightforward political drama could have worked better. But would it have garnered as much publicity?

Worth seeing?
A Serbian Film is deliberately offensive and frequently repugnant, but it's also a well made, effective horror film that both serves as a political allegory and makes a valid comment on the sex industry.

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A Serbian Film (18)
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Content updated: 26/09/2015 06:26

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