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For Torture Porn Filmmakers Who Considered Rape-icide When Hostel Didn't Go Far Enuf

By Brian Prisco | | August 26, 2010 | Comments ()

By Brian Prisco | | August 26, 2010 |


a-serbian-film-500x252.jpg

What's grosser than gross? That seems to be the driving force behind most of the laughable direct-to-DVD horror films that plague Blockbuster. It's a deluded effort to trump each other with the most vulgar, depraved shit they could possibly think of in their darkest hours when the pretty girls won't even talk to them. Chaining her to a drainpipe and sandblasting off her boobies not good enough? Let's fuck a wound! Not far enough? Does she even need to be alive? Let's bone a corpse! Rock on, we're rebels, let's go get handjobs from suicide girls, yukka yukka yuk. Well, congratulations, sirs. The game is over. A Serbian Film has defeated you all by leaps and fucking bounds. There will never ever be a more vile and disturbing sequence of events than you will see in this film. It makes Human Centipede look like a "Charlie Brown Christmas Special." It will fucking break you. In your darkest hours, in your sickest moments, you are like Ralph Wiggum to the minds behind this film. It takes any efforts to justify torture porn with flimsy psychological tripe and tears it like Edward Norton's anus in American History X. This is it. This is the limit that a film can go. It will fucking break you. And the strangest part is ... it's brilliant. It takes torture porn to places it never, ever should go. It's the ultimate torture porn -- to the nth degree. It punts torture porn into Friday of next week. It eats Irish torture porn babies like cubesteak. And by pushing things that far, it completely and utterly eradicates the genre. Torture porn is dead, and A Serbian Film raped its corpse.

A retired porn star named Milos is convinced to take just one more gig, after he left the industry to be with his wife and son. The director, a man named Vukmir, admires both Milos' canon and his cannon, if you know what I mean and I think you do. Vukmir wants to create the ultimate artistic pornography -- pornography that will change the world. So he hires the down-and-out actor for a ridiculous amount of money to star in his avant-garde fuck-fest. Milos mustn't know what's going to happen in advance; he's only to receive instructions through an earbud. From there, we watch as Milos wanders into his nightmare shoot, flanked by men who look like Slavic mercenaries but target him with digicams. Milos spirals down and down until he goes through the fucking looking glass and into a Memento memento mori. Waking up covered in blood three or four days later in his bed in an empty home, Milos searches frantically for answers. Milos replays the tiny digicam videotapes he finds strewn about which just become more horrific and unsettling, until he finally drops into a nadir that no one should ever have conceived.

Right up until the very last scene, I just kept asking myself why I was watching this. You feel disgusted about yourself. Most viewers will never make it up until the finale, because there are scenes too putrid to even mention. If it were simply pedophilia or sexual battery, it'd be easy to dismiss. Taboos are splattered against the walls in thick ropy streams. It's beyond the pale. Understand that I don't say this as some sort of dare or you-can't-handle-this taunt. You cannot, nor should not, be able to handle this. I never advocate censorship, but there are scenes no film should ever depict, and this film goes beyond even those. While there is the most tenuous of justifications for why they go to where they go, they've gone too far. It's kind of the point of the film -- but it's still incredibly too much. In 8MM, Nicolas Cage supposedly watched the most awful snuff film ever, squirming and overacting and moaning. When watching this, you will not squirm. You will simply stop breathing, and maybe start to cry.

And you will wonder why the hell you are still there watching this putrid collection of disgusting acts. But the final moment of the film, the absolute last scene of the film, is the key to the movie. Most people will never reach that point, and god bless them and keep them because they are truly the better people. But quite literally the last scene lets you realize what you've just witnessed was an elaborate Serbian version of The Aristocrats. There's an old vaudeville joke that's been passed down among comedians like a secret handshake. A family walks into a talent agent's office and tells them that he just has to see their act, it's phenomenal. They then begin to perform the most vile and disgusting combinations of deviant sexual acts on each other imaginable. When they finish, the agent says, "What the hell do you call that?" and the punchline goes, "It's called The Aristocrats!" The punchline is that the teller is supposed to ad lib the sexual acts in the most vile and repugnant way possible: incest, fecophilia, beastiality, coprophilia, rape, sodomy, pedophilia, the raunchier the better. Because everyone already knows the punchline and setup, the adlib becomes the joke, where you're supposed to shock the unholy hell out of your audience by spewing the most ghastly things your mind can imagine. And in A Serbian Film, after the family has dropped into the darkest pits of hell imaginable, there's a sick hook that's like someone mugging "It's called The Aristocrats."

It might have worked better if the film didn't go as far as it does. Oddly, while it's all repulsive, there are truly one or two scenes where it just goes into the realm of the unforgivable. But because it jumps so far beyond the line of what's conceivable in those moments, it's ineffectual. You're so disgusted, you'll never stick around for the punchline. It'd be like instead of saying the joke for "The Aristocrats," you just demonstrate it. It's seeing all these awful things on screen that break you, to the point where you just can't appreciate it. And yet, I think without them, the movie wouldn't have been as effective. They're necessary evils, but also abominable ones. Going that far is the point of the film, and the point of Vukmir the filmmaker within the film. He wants to push society to its limits. But it's too far. I get it, but I wish I didn't get it.

Which is shame, because buried beneath all the sordid and explicit menagerie is an astounding tragic tale of a man doing whatever it takes to keep his family together. The relationship between Milos, his wife, and his son is a complex and fantastic one, endearing and touching, which adds to the disturbing pathos of the finale. The film is also an incredible commentary on the narcissism of the bourgeoisie artiste, the nature of sexuality, the role of violence in sexuality, the very definition of pornography. It's what makes A Serbian Film more than just torture porn, even though at it's very essence, the film is about a pornographer who brutally tortures his subjects. If you're willing to root through the vile imagery associated with that, there's a powerful and twisted film buried deep within. But you're gonna get your hands awful fucking messy, and really, for most people, stomaching this just to get some decent pop psychology is not going to be worth the hefty price of admission.

You should not watch A Serbian Film. I won't ever watch it again. I'm repulsed as much as I admire what writer/director Srđan Spasojević pulled off. It's daring, intelligent, thought-provoking, destructive, repulsive, repugnant, putrid, awful, magnificently the worst film I've ever hated myself for appreciating. Most people shouldn't watch a film that even mentions the words "newborn porn" (and God willing that two-word phrase broke your soul as much as typing it hurt mine), and I sincerely hope you stay away from this film. As much of an advocate of free speech and anti-censorship, I sincerely hope Blockbuster and Netflix refuse to carry this film. It's the kind of movie that should be secretly passed around like the Anarchist's Cookbook used to be before the advent of the internet. If you see it, you should have someone else to blame. But please do not let that person be me.


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