January 23, 2012

A Serbian Film (Srpski Film) (2011)

In a film where the baseline for normalcy is the mother catching the young son watching one of the pornos his dad starred in and lovingly lectures the dad about not leaving the old films around the house for their son to find, you know it can only get worse. A Serbian Film is one of those films that is often listed among things like ‘human centipede’, ‘antichrist’, ‘irreversible’ and ‘Ōdishon’ as an extremely messed up film. And it does, in many ways, share the graphic violence/shock/gore elements with those others mentioned. It does have some bit of politics/social commentary slipped in (considering the title and the movie-within-a-movie director’s comments), mainly relating to the war that has ravaged the region in the '90s, but this is by no means necessary to understand the film nor is it very significant in terms of the geopolitical situation of the region or the imagined community of national identity that it pretends to define. As far as the psychological shock-value is concerned, it does try to push the envelope a little. I’m gonna say a little, because you could see the ending come a mile away, to a certain extent, but it still does not detract from the ‘entertainment’ if you can call it that. Clearly not to watch if you’re squeamish, but it can very much be enjoyed if you think of it as one of those over-the top B-movies with over-the-top violence. There is some humour at the beginning (and, surprisingly, in a good way, at the very end), but other than that the tone is pretty much dead serious. The plot isn’t amazing and big part of it relies on flashback and a ‘MacGuffin drug’ that drives a big part of it, but other than that, it’s pretty much all about the violence (with, granted, some bits of sex mixed in) and the psychological shock. It’s not a perfect movie in any way you look at it, but it does hold a special place in the pantheon of shock alongside the other films listed above. Definitely worth a watch if you felt absolutely compelled to watch the rest of them.