on 13 December 2010
Even in it's censored form, A Serbian Film packs a powerful punch.
Without trying to sound like an apologist for censorship, the cut version still works and internet rants against companies putting out censored work should be directed at the censor, not the companies putting out the movies, who have to recoup costs regardless of the BBFCs outcome.
To all the people bleating about how disgusting it is and how it should be banned I say this. You don't have to watch it. This isn't the kind of film, thanks to a combined campaign of open and honest marketing and furiously jerking knees, that anyone will come to without prior warning.
Therefore, if you choose to watch something and then get offended, it's your fault, not the fault of talented filmmakers creating transgressive imagery. Personally, I watched it and got very upset. Upset because the film asked me questions rather than simply throwing the claret around and jiggling breasts in my face.
If only more films were less thought provoking and had more pointless slaughter and more jiggling breasts,we could all sleep at night knowing that no one would be offended or uncomfortable. Fact is, art and creativity shouldn't be subject to censure only classification. I classify this movie as uncompromising, thought provoking, intellegent and extremely troubling.
If you don't like images of sex, violence and sexual violence, just don't watch it. Don't. If you're more tolerant of extreme cinema and taboo images, then A Serbian Film, despite protests from reviewers about it being pure exploitation (an act of cowardice as they try to avoid being seen to praise that which has been universally vilified), is a smart, clever, questioning work that will at least give you plenty of pub debate ammunition.
This 2010 film, tells the story of an ex porn star who is struggling to provide for his wife and young son. When his female co-star from the past suddenly arrives, she offers him a lucrative film deal financed by the mysterious Vukmir. But without a script to go on, what has he let himself in for?
From the opening scene of a 5 year old boy watching a porn movie featuring his dad, you know this is going to be a difficult watch. Covering unsavoury topics such as graphic depictions of rape, necrophilia, suggested bestiality and child sexual abuse, this was always going to offend. But despite the hype, there is little here that has not already been covered in other films, but what this does is put them all together in a graphic and suggestive manner [however this is the censored version] [lose a *]. However, realism isn’t the name of the game as some of the plot lines are ludicrous and are simply meant to shock which wouldn’t be a bad thing if the film didn’t pretend to make a real social statement [lose a *].
The single disc offers play, scene selection, set up [5.1, 2.0 default] and a film makers insight. Running at 95 minutes, this has 49 edits, although no full scenes are deleted –[having edited many of the scenes involving the children], but it still makes for disturbing viewing. I didn’t pick up on the social statement the filmmaker bleated on about, how everyone prostitutes themselves as wage slaves etc, even he admitted he made the film then looked for the justification for it.
on 6 February 2011
The four and a half minutes cut from this movie were important parts that made it as extreme as it was. Just download the screener and don't waste your time on the dvd.
on 30 October 2012
There has been a thing going around about the sheer dreadfulness of this film.
I bought it to see just how shocking it was.
I suspect that some sections had been cut, but there was still lot's of graphic unpleasantness, mainly of a sexually perverse nature, to make it a grim storyline.
In fact the sexual element is very graphically portrayed.
I have seen worse gore.
I guess what sets this apart is the despicable acts the main player is forced while drugged to participate in.
The ending is unexpected and another perverse twist.
You'll either find this disgusting and grossly shocking, or watchable for what it is. Controversial.
on 15 June 2011
My review is for the uncut version of the film,as the BBFC have chopped this one to bits.I recently bought this version off Amazon for the bonus features and to see what has been cut.It's not good.I was under the impression there would be just some slight trimming here and there(I had been on a website that compared both versions),but this is not the case.Some scenes have been shortened so much that their impact is greatly reduced,to the point in which they may aswell have been removed entirely(specifically the notorious baby scene and the one in which Milos is watching the filmed death of Laylah on the camcorder.In this version,the former scene is trimmed so much so that without Vukmir shouting "Newborn Porn" you wouldn't have assumed the baby was molested,as not enough is shown to even imply this).This makes me really angry,as legions of casual film fans who see this on a shelf in HMV and think it looks interesting,will judge this film on the version they see(and don't forget there is still a warning on the back of the sleeve,thus the content will be unfairly judged as it is not in it's complete format).....the good thing though is that in the spoken introduction the director informs us that this version is actually cut,so people know there is more to this film if they want to seek out the full version.
Before I talk about the film,I would just like to say a few things about the BBFC.Ahem......MOVIE CENSORSHIP IS NOW COMPLETELY REDUNDANT....HELLO PEOPLE....EVER HEARD OF THE INTERNET???!!!!!By heavily censoring a film,you are just going to make people like me more determined to track it down uncut....and it really isn't difficult nowadays!The whole process is so arbitrary,it makes me laugh.For example,when "Ichi The Killer" was first released on these shores,I think something like three or four minutes was cut.It was mostly all the violence towards women-which is fair enough.There was a warning on the sleeve for the films' content and it created a lot of controversy.I can understand all of this.What I CAN'T understand is why,then,would they not object to a film like "Irreversible"(which contains the most savage and prolongued rape/murder I have ever seen on film)?The only warning sign on it's box is for the strobe lighting!Hilarious!!!!Good work BBFC!!!!
Anyway,onto "A Serbian Film".I really didn't have high expectations for this movie because so many of the reviews on the net made it sound like a crummy exploitation film.A film in which the story existed only to drive the carnage.I am really glad I watched it for myself,I found the film to be utterly gripping from start to finish.I don't know how anyone could argue that it isn't a highly immersive movie,there aren't many films I have EVER seen where I have felt such a feeling of imprisonment,where you feel you are trapped in this situation with the main character.Indeed,even after the film had finished,this feeling took a while to shake off.I really felt for Milos aswell,which was another pleasant surprise(some reviewers made it sound like there were no "human" characters in the film),he is a very likeable guy.Down on his luck and just trying to do what's best for his family,he has no idea what he is getting into!
As a massive fan of extreme cinema and someone who actively seeks out repulsive subject matter I am probably not the best person to judge the stronger scenes!But I will say that this film is definitely rough going in places(particularly the horrible ending)and obviously not for those of a weak disposition.A lot of scenes however,sound a lot worse than they actually are.For example,my friend was reading about the film(knowing I had seen it)and when he read about the baby scene,he gave me a very funny look!Of course,when I said it sounds a lot worse than it is,he stared at me even longer!!!!!But it's really true.A previous reviewer likened the scene to something you would see in a Troma film and I couldn't agree more,it is not as bad as it could have been(I am not complaining here,it's bad enough!).Personally,I found the end of the French film "Inside" much,much harder to endure.
Anyway,to conclude,"A Serbian Film" is definitely shocking,disturbing and even downright vile in places,but it is also an original,well-written,impeccably acted and highly engaging story.If you are not turned-off by challenging subject matter,I highly recommend it.
on 4 February 2014
This advertises that the movie is 104 minutes which would make it the uncut version when in actual fact it is 95 minutes meaning it is the cut version!!
on 21 September 2015
This doesn't get 1 star because of how controversial it is, it gets it out of sheer plagarism. What the makers did was take every controversial movie that they had seen through the years and stitch these scenes together to come out with A Serbian Film.
The acting isn't the best, neither is the script. Ok the production values do look good for a low budget movie, but so what when everything look fake. Let's talk about the baby rape. If you find a man having sex with a plastic doll offensive and a tape recorder of a baby screaming for its milk then look away. For the rest of us it was pathetic in its nature. Scrap the doll and think more like Kuato from Total Recall. Now obviously I don't want to see a baby being raped, but please don't try and shock us because the end scene is actually teenage comedy.
The gore is over the top stupid, so no you can't gorge out a mans eye with your penis. If you want to be moved emotionally by a movie that leaves you shocked try Irreversible or Martyrs. This seemed more like a comedy, a total failure.
on 17 September 2011
On balance I think this is one of the worst films I have ever seen. And believe me, that's saying something. It fails spectacularly on every level. The direction is clunky and cringe-makingly immature, the script is clichéd and dull, the acting is amateur, the plot is absurd and the violence is hilarious. I only bought the film because I kept hearing it mentioned in the same breath as 'Irreversible'. That itself is a travesty. Whilst 'Irreversible' falls far short of being a classic, to even mention it in the same sentence as this puerile contribution is an insult it does not deserve.
It's difficult to convey the full horror of this film to someone who hasn't seen it. Not horror as in intentional, disturbing subject matter, but rather the sheer disregard for cinematic process and lack of attention to the craft of film-making. Scenes were frequently clichéd to the point of parody. The interaction of the family unit in the opening minutes was as baffling as it was embarrassing and things only got worse with the introduction of the villain. At any moment I expected him to twirl his moustache and exclaim that he must leave as he was needed back on set of the 70's Bond movie he was currently filming. Once we'd established through grandiose theatrics ("Bwahahahaha!") that the villain was indeed a bad man the director seemed to realise what we'd all cottoned onto half an hour since - that the plot wasn't working - so he jumbled up the time-frame to confuse things. I can only assume he'd watched Memento the night before and thought it was a sophisticated thing to do. Add to this a bizarre premise involving cattle drugs and the stage was now set for some long-awaited gore, which deserves a little paragraph all to itself.
I have seen more convincing violence on Tom and Jerry. At one point I picked up the DVD believing I'd mistakenly ordered a parody of 'A Serbian Film' instead of the real thing. I heard the BBFC censored five minutes of violence from this film but I don't believe it was intentional, I think the editor was laughing so much his hand slipped. At one point, during the 'shocking' final confrontation the anatomically impossible action of our 'hero' and his unfeasibly mammoth rubber penis caused me to swallow my coffee the wrong way and nearly choke. I can't deny it was funny but I had a sneaking suspicion that wasn't the director's intention.
All in all it seems clear that the director had little interest in producing good cinema and simply wanted to make something that would shock. He clearly failed on the former and the only thing shocking about this film is that it found a distributor.
on 20 September 2011
Well, this was a strange one. Not really sure where to start, other than to say, as a cinematic experience, this one left me completely cold. I found moments of disgust at times, of course, I watched intently with some interest, but the last couple of reels are rather predictable with a finale you can see coming a mile away, an unravelling of 'what has gone before' (via the 'found video footage') that may or may not be a nod to 'Cannibal Holocaust', and a final twist which is more of an "Oh...OK," rather than a "Woahh!?!"
I appreciate the political and allegorical subtext but that doesn't necessarily make the film any more valid, or interesting. Personally, I thought the director missed a huge opportunity to explore the twisted mindset of evil people who create and trade in abominations such as child porn, and who exploit others in similar, degrading fashion for pleasure or profit, but instead we get a half-mad visionary villain and some cliche, comic-book henchmen vaguely reminiscent of Arkan's Tigers, the notorious paramilitary Serbian Defence Force of the Balkan war. I think my emotional apathy was mainly due to the lack of real personality in any of the characters, or emotional involvement with each other. Vukim or whatever the main villain calls himself at least fills his scenes with a flamboyant sense of glee, while the rest of the cast frankly look as if they're drugged half the time. Maybe this is designed in the style of Cronenberg's "Crash" and not meant to be viewed literally, for this is set in a world where common sense, and also police, don't seem to exist (except when the only cop in the feature is seen spanking the proverbial in his brother's bathroom).
At the end of the day, what we really have is a juxtaposition of images with ideas and dialogue that may or may not in itself be abhorrent, but which taken in context can present something approaching a revolting spectacle. Thanks to the BBFC scissors we won't know how much more extreme the original Serbian version was, but I fail to see how more graphic detail can really add to what already has been presented. People are raped, repeatedly, in many ways, so the director delights in telling us in the rather self-important and very slightly tongue-in-cheek prelude, and this is pretty much what the film escalates into - a series of physical and mental rapes of the characters, which becomes very overused as a metaphor long before the final moments.
It's hard to know where this one fits in to the extreme cinema/horror category. Pasolini's "Salo" is more artistic and meaningful, "Cannibal Holocaust" more original, and "I Spit on your Grave" at least has a tawdry, handheld feel which at times looks very realistic and disturbing.
By contrast, "Serbian" is glossy and slick, and presents a number of the usual 'torture porn' scenarios and settings that could easily be intercut into any one of a dozen "Hostel" clones. Perhaps if this had been shot on jerky, handheld 16mm a la Deodato's "Holocaust" it may have come over as more effective, or if the camera had been locked at a distance a la Pasolini and the tableaux allowed to unfold before it in one take, we may have grasped a sense of what Vukim proclaims to be his 'art' (cf. Peter Greenaway, for a masterclass in directing this kind of 'interactive painting'). The story Vukim enacts with his actors, involving the child and wife of a dead war hero, is muddled, and not satisfactorily resolved. There may be some significance to the red hoods over the heads of the victims in the finale, but again, this is not made clear. This is certainly no "Martyrs", a film to which I had probably the most violent and negative reaction in many years, and which took weeks to clear out of my head - but at least that was a reaction, unlike the mildly vexed "Hmmm..." I was left with after viewing "Serbian".
It's a curiosity, neither good nor bad, and probably far more controversial than it really needed to be. The juxtapositioning of young children with porn and violent acts is not one I'm comfortable with, but this is still cinema, and we can be assured (I hope?) that the children concerned were not really exposed to the imagery surrounding them. Perhaps it's significant of how extreme mainstream cinema has become that directors of horror these days now have to resort to such abominable concepts and imagery to elicit any kind of response at all from their de-sensitized and numbed audiences - in which, of course, I may have to include myself, although ultimately, I find real-life news and media exploitation of barbaric acts far more offensive and disturbing than any mere fiction featuring actors. As a onetime video cameraman myself, I'm only too aware of the processes involved behind the camera, and in the editing suite, which combine to create the illusion of reality.
Two-and-a-half stars (rounded up - I'm feeling generous) for trying (though failing) to capture something of the sense of a genuine war crime via the metaphor of cinema. Otherwise, if you have watched (or endured) all of the films mentioned above, you will be left with a sense that, barring a few taboo moments of Satanic South Park-style bad taste, you've somehow seen it all before.
on 25 April 2013
This film is in my opinion one of the hardest hitting, unforgiving, and groundbreaking pieces of cinema I've ever seen. It is deliberately shocking and unapologetic for that. It has a strong political message deep in the films core structure and although some of the more infamous scenes are a little hard to watch, it's also intriguing to watch. The DVD version here has alot of footage either taken out or shortened so you may watch this version and be unfazed by it, however if you can find the uncut version it would be to your benefit.
The special effects and camera work in this film are excellent. Very atmospheric and the effects themselves look so good you would think it was real in parts. Now this film will offend alot of people due to some of the scenes portrayed, I particular the infamous baby scene which made me close to being ill, however some of the other scenes are more impact full for some horror films. It has a very dark tone to it that I personally enjoyed and if you examine the film to its core, it achieves what it set out to.
I would recommend this film to people who particularly like exploitation films as this in my opinion will go down as a fine piece of foreign cinema and a genuine shock movie.