January 07, 2014

Lerman's 14 For '14 Day Four: A SERBIAN FILM Will Make You Unclean

"Start with the little one."
GAAAAAAAAAAAAHHHHHHHHH.

Immediately after watching A Serbian Film I found myself relieved that I hadn't yet showered that day, as I would have certainly felt compelled to cleanse myself for a second time.  Then again, I'm the one who asked Lerman to find me some "out there" shit.  This is what I signed up for.

A Serbian Film was something I'd heard rumors about for years, spoken in hushed tones by those who had seen it and likely wished they hadn't.  I read plenty of stuff about controversial films and sometimes it feels like the hype is far more dramatic than the actual material, but the way people talked about A Serbian film...this was different.  I still haven't gotten around to watching either of the Human Centipede movies yet, but now the idea of people whose mouths are sewn to assholes seems positively quaint by comparison.  To be clear, I'm not generally one who reacts to art with outrage and pearl-clutching.  I've never been offended by a joke and, when it comes to narrative film, there's not much you can depict that will make me seriously flinch.  But this thing has been haunting me for days now.  This is a film that is so fucked up, I couldn't even pull up the IMDb page at work because it was blocked by the office firewall.

When Jamie isn't really interested in a movie I'm watching, she tends to sit on the couch with her laptop and headphones, listening to One Direction.  This time, I made sure she left the room entirely.

The story starts off almost playfully puerile, with Milosh, the one-time Marlon Brando of pornography, now retired and struggling to provide for his beautiful wife and son.  One of his former co-stars gets in touch with a job offer; a new and charismatic filmmaker named Vukmir Vukmir wants to make truly artistic pornography and he's willing to pay ludicrous amounts of money to his star.  He needs the best.  He needs Milosh.  We're then treated to a Rocky-esque training montage as Milosh tries to get back in shape and focus his skills for his big return to the cameras.  In an inspired moment, we even experience Milosh get (and then lose) an erection all from the perspective of his dick.  Penis POV!  It's exactly the right balance of truly weird and slyly brilliant.  I was really starting to enjoy this thing. What was all the fuss about?

Oh Daley, you sweet, naive fool.

Vukmir's production turns out to be pretty fucked up, shooting in a former orphanage with at least one underage girl present and featuring a lot of women suffering physically abuse.  Part of Milosh's contract stipulates that he won't know what the scenes entail before filming, but faced with some pretty degrading material Milosh decides to cut bait and go back to retirement.  However when he tries to break the bad news to Vukmir, Milosh is drugged and awakens three days later, forced to retrace his steps and piece together exactly what went down and why he doesn't remember it.

Just before Milosh is drugged, Vukmir shows him a clip of a new kind of pornography, something so horrifying and patently immoral that I was convinced that the film had reached peak awfulness.  The next thirty minutes proved me so very, very wrong.  A Serbian Film was just getting warmed up.  I won't detail any of the depraved, abhorrent action that followed for one simple reason: 90% of you don't want to know that someone even contemplated such behavior, let alone depicted it on film, and for the 10% of you (that might be a generous estimate) who, like me, suffer from insatiable curiosity, telling you anything would be counterproductive. You simply have to see it.

I suppose one could make an argument that those behind A Serbian Film are trying to take a stance against the porn industry and all the lives that it destroys.  It certainly subverts any kind of playful, Don Jon-esque representation of porn and focuses instead on the dark and disturbing underbelly of the business, taking that representation to the absolute extreme edge of decency.  It's not too dissimilar to Scorcese's strategy with Wolf Of Wall Street, fully embracing any and all excess and taking the story completely over the top to the point of near absurdity in order to provoke a specific response in the audience and forever change their perception of the parties involved, be they Wall Street brokers or pornographers.

Or these guys could just be a bunch of sick fucks.

Who can say?

A Serbian Film is such an insane, singular experience that I almost can't believe that it exists on any level.  That it was written, shot, edited and then made available to the public seems beyond my comprehension.  I'm glad I watched it once, but I'm honestly not sure I can ever sit through it again.  And that's saying something.

What's The Connection? - Necrophilia!  Plus, both High Tension and A Serbian Film feature some seriously disturbing blowjobs.

Up Next - The Vanishing (1988)

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Title: A Serbian Film
Director: Srdjan Spasojevic
Starring: Srdjan Todorovic, Sergej Trifunovic, Jelena Gavrilovic, Slobodan Bestic, Katarina Zutic
Year Of Release: 2010
Viewing Method: Digital Copy (TV)