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“Lose yourself in fuck…”
– (A pound of flesh to the first person to tell me what movie that is from)
Milos – husband, father, retired porn star – is facing financial difficulties. He is called back to the world of pornography with the promise of a very large (unspecified) amount of money from mysterious director Vukmir – a striking philosophical resemblance to 8mm’s Dino Velvet. Milos is told nothing about the movie he is making, only being directed via earpiece – a la Starkweather in Manhunt – what to do next. After a while, Milos finds himself the star of a snuff film, with horrible personal consequences…
Don’t expect a Kafka-esque metamorphosis for Milos – he is already a monster. Don’t get me wrong, he is a good father and husband, but it’s obvious the industry he once worked for has already changed him. As Milos travels further down the rabbit-hole – this becomes more evident. Speaking of rabbit-hole, there is a constant, yet subtle, Alice in Wonderland theme throughout Srpski Film – notice how many times you see a rabbit in a scene leading Milos further down said rabbit-hole, or the dress the child wears – yay symbolism and allusions!
Srdjan Spasojevic’s Srpski Film (AKA Serbian Film) is no stranger to controversy. Having premiered at the 2010 SXSW Film Festival the snowball effect that is Srpski Film started rolling down the hill, word of mouth about the atrocities involved packed the snow on, and it soon became a boulder. This boulder kept rolling, destroying many on the way down – getting banned in its home country, Australia, and most recently, UK Blockbusters. The boulder was temporarily slowed when it became the BBFC’s most edited film ever – requiring forty-nine individual cuts to eleven scenes, a total of over four (!) minutes cut out. However, this boulder of depravity did not fully lose its momentum. It’s out there for those inclined to find it, however, when you do, don’t get in its way – lest ye be crushed.
The score to the film is a (beautiful) blend of (mostly) industrial and techno that can only be described as the bastard love child of Trent Reznor and Chu Ishikawa (Tetsuo: The Ironman.) The magic of the score is that it never appears as intrusive, rather as a silent passenger next to you throughout that you really start to appreciate – think Peter Stormare in Fargo – yet has the capacity to assault your eardrums if you let it. A majority of the songs are different versions of the movie’s central ‘theme’ song, either played by piano or guitar, crescendo-ing up to the final full-blown assault-your-face version played during the credits.
Fans of this genre have come to distrust the newest “extreme” or “unrated” film claiming to be the next big thing, as we have often (usually) been let down, or the film had ONE redeeming scene. However skeptical, let me reassure you – as one connoisseur of extremity to another – Srpski Film is not a waste of time. It resets the status quo for both sexuality and violence to a new maximum.
One can either see this film as tasteless boundary-pushing trash with high production values, or one can take a look at the origins of it all –
Serbia is still living in the shadows and aftermath of the Balkan War – it’s only been 15 years since violence and rape were used against the people as a whole, from both military and politics, and only 4 years since the country gained independence from Montenegro. The oppression faced by the Serbs, hell, even a fraction of the oppression, can help one (attempt to) understand where this movie is coming from. Spasojevic has been quoted as saying –
“This is a diary of our own molestation by the Serbian government. We’re giving this back to you…It’s about the monolithic power of leaders who hypnotize you to do things you don’t want to do. You have to feel the violence to know what it’s about.”
-referring to the 15+ years of violence, genocide, and the use of rape as a “tactical weapon” by the military.
That all being said, we should probably discuss the controversial scene in Srpski Film that everybody is talking about – besides the insane ending…
********* SPOILERS BELOW ***************
At the end of the second act of Srpski Film, Milos wants out of the project. Vukmir makes Milos a drink – Milos drinks SO much in this movie – and shows him a short movie. On the screen, one of Vukmir’s droogs / henchmen is seen delivering a baby in some dilapidated room. Immediately after delivering the baby, the droog proceeds to take his pants off and rape the newborn baby. Milos is appalled and also drugged via the drink Vukmir made…begin act three…
Now, this is a very strong defining moment for the viewer – do you say “Fuck this!” and walk out – like many did during Srpski Film’s film festival run, or do you bite your tongue and follow Milos down the rabbit-hole? Do you see the metaphor in this scene – corruption of youth and/or the allegory to Serbian life – you are born and then the government starts fucking you immediately? Or do you see the violation of 18 U.S.C. § 2256 (simulated child pornography) as tasteless film-making at its worst?
So you can view Srpski Film two different ways: a ‘Fuck You!’ to the Serbian government from an analogy of post-war Serbia, or tasteless trash – I have heard both arguments constructively. Yet, one should consider that ALL film is art – whether you like it or not is another story, but it is still art. To degrade a film to trash – to strip it of its art status – is not only ignorant, it’s oppressive. Oppressive in the way that because you don’t like something, you won’t let it have its turn, silencing it. Srpski Film exists to get under your fingernails and scratch some raw nerves – just don’t think it’s all in vain.
“Monster though it was…he embuggered it…”
–Marquis De Sade