Jason: "A Serbian Film" is one of those movies people talk about in hushed tones. Only certain people are aware of its existence, and if you try to bring it to the mainstream, you'll be easily arrested for crimes against humanity. I'm pretty sure the writer and director set out to make a fucked up movie but I don't think even he was prepared for how people were gonna react to this film.
As I throw to Nick to give his opening thoughts, I have to say I have no idea how he'll react to this film as he gave me the pleasure to be the first one to watch it. When I suggested "Visitor Q" to him, saying how fucked up it is, he watched it and laughed it off. If he can laugh off necrophilia and weird lactating mothers, I'm not sure how he'll react to "A Serbian Film."
Nick: Well, Jason... I'm so glad you asked. It turns out my initial reaction was something akin to "I don't mind never seeing this film again. Ever." Now, I talk a lot about a little film called Salo. In fact, when Serbian was first in the news, a lot of other people said it was the Salo of our day. I can see that. I felt almost equally ill after finishing this one as I did with that one. But there are at least one or two major differences that set those two films apart, and I think that's what I really want to explore here. But first, let's look at the story itself.
Jason: At the start of the film we're treated to a skanky chick in an alley. We meet Milos, who comes into the alley, and basically rips her panties off and starts fucking her on a motorcycle. This all turns out to be a porn film Milos was in. Milos is a retired porn star with several titles under his cock.
And not only is this from a porn film, but the person watching said porn film is Petar, Milos son. That might not seem like a big deal but Petar is only like 8 or so. So yeah. Milos and his wife Maria walk in on this and turn it off. Milos doesn't think it's a big deal but Maria thinks the porn watching should wait until he's a bit older. Like 10 or so.
Now that Milos is retired, he doesn't really have another job. Maria has a job as some sort of interpreter but it's not enough to pay the bills. So they need some sort of other income. Ok, I have a question: can male porn stars REALLY retire? I mean there are people who are into all kinds of weird stuff (as we'll find out in a bit here) so really couldn't an old guy still be banging away at hot chicks, as long as he's still "equipped"? Milos here still is because that's all everyone says in this movie how Milos can still get it up and keep it hard for a long time.
Nick: Well... there is Ron Jeremy. But that's beside the point. Anyway, an old acquaintance of Milos (a female porn star who has apparently turned to bestiality films to make some cash) has returned to tell him about an underground director who will shell out some big bucks (like, retire and never work a day in your life again kind of big bucks) if he participates in his next porn film. The only catch is... the dude refuses to tell him what the porno is about or what he has to do outside of have sex. After talking it over with his wife, Milos reluctantly agrees.
The first day of shooting has them at an old building for abandoned and orphaned children. So... off to a good start, then, huh? For whatever reason, Milos doesn't turn and run immediately, but instead gets a little earpiece so that the director can tell him what to do. Mainly, he walks around and watches as some females get slapped and dragged around. Then he gets a blowjob while having to watch two videos of an underage girl eating a popsicle and the same girl putting on makeup.
But then the next day (I believe) happens... and he's taken to a room in the building where he's forced to rape a woman. And if that wasn't enough, he has to do it while a young, underage girl from earlier scenes sits and watches. Needless to say, he's a bit weirded out by the whole thing. We're about an hour into the film at this point... it's actually been relatively boring and quite tame in comparison to other films. However, he goes to talk to the director about the movie and what's going on and... this is when the movie gets... well, where it starts to earn its reputation. I'll let my associate briefly describe what you're missing.
Jason: Milos is creeped out and wants out of the project, despite getting a gazillion dollars. The director (whom I'll call Lars Von Trier cause I forgot his name already) convinces Milos to stay cause all he's really doing is just fucking. I don't think that's the real problem, Lars. But Milos stays on...until he's forced to hit a woman. Now that's the last straw.
Milos confronts Lars Von Trier and wants to know what kind of movie this is. Lars says he makes artsy films that involve sex of all kinds. Then he shows him a scene from the movie. I hesitate to even mention this cause really it involves two words that NEVER should be put together, and I'm sure there are people out there who Google such things and I don't want them coming to my site. (I'm sure Nick doesn't want them on his site either.)
Nick: Not particularly.
Jason: Basically, we get a scene of a pregnant lady who produces a new human being, and then we get a guy (who is the guy that's been driving Milos around town) grabbing this new human being and having adult relations with it. Yeah. You wanna know the fucked up part? I KNEW this was going to happen but I DIDN'T know we would actually see the act. Sure the new human being looks fake as hell, but still. That's an image that sticks with you, man.
Jason: Milos is grossed out, and he runs out of the house. He totally doesn't want anything to do with this movie anymore. But Lars says "fuck that" and drugs his drink, which causes him to pass out. Oh, Lars Von Trier.
Milos wakes up and it's like two or three days later. He's all bloodied and bruised and doesn't remember anything. Ladies and gentlemen, "A Serbian Hangover"! He can't find Maria or Petar so he drives back to Von Trier's house, finds it empty, but finds some tapes lying around. Milos snags them, finds a quiet spot in the forest, and watches a lovely Disney movie.
Ok, not really. It shows all the fucked up shit Milos did when he was blacked out. He fucked a chick, then cut her head off while doing it (Nick: Don't forget the part where he continues to bang her despite the headlessness of the situation). Then there's a part where Milos was passed out so some other dude comes in and fucks him. Nice.
Milos slowly remembers everything, including not wanting to do a scene where he fucks the 12-year-old girl from earlier in the movie (yeah, I'm OK with those grouping of words but not "new human sex") so he escapes from the scene. But Lars Von Trier is a tricky motherfucker! He finds Milos in the street and drags him back to some warehouse. This is where the real fun is.
Nick: You mean we weren't having fun yet? To be perfectly honest, I do think the blacking out and having the majority of the rest of the film be him discovering things through the tapes to be an actual good idea. Too bad the things on the tapes were... well, what they were. Anyway...
Jason: So Milos and some masked guy are presented with two unconscience bodies. They're both covered up except for their asses and one of them is smaller than the other. Both Milos and the masked guy start fucking the bodies, with Milos fucking the smaller one. The masked guy takes his mask off and it's...Milos' brother! And the two bodies they are fucking?
Umm...if you haven't figured it out by now...
Family is missing... Milos was doing the smaller one... yeah... I hope you figured it out.
Nick: Poor Peter Dinklage...
Jason: Armed with this knowledge, Milos just goes fucking nuts and punches and kills dudes left and right. The best part? The "new human fucker" only had one eye so Milos starts FUCKING THE BAD EYE TO DEATH!! After so much fucked up shit, this was such a breath of fresh air. God... did I just say that?
Nick: No, I will back Jason up on this. Everything prior to this point had been so insane and ridiculously awful that by the time Milos fights back and very literally and graphically skull fucks this dude, it's pretty much the most awesome thing you've ever seen in your life. I know that sounds crazy, but trust us... or at least don't call the police.
Jason: Let's end this review.
Nick: I concur.
Jason: Milos kills everyone, including the brother, and takes his family back home. The family is freaked out (naturally) and don't know how to cope with what just happened. They all agree the best way is to just kill themselves. So in the cheeriest of all endings, Milos kills himself, Maria, and Petar with one bullet. And then...some weird guy is at the house, telling some other guy to fuck the dead corpses. THE END!!
Nick: Is the movie totally messed up? To put it lightly, yes. But it's not without purpose. I'm not trying to defend the film, but at the very least, it's not being disturbing for the sake of being disturbing. Outside of the final 30 seconds (which I think is like "OK, that's too much now"), the film does have a purpose and a reason for being what it is. Did it need to be made and done the way it was to give us that purpose? That's a whole other discussion.
Also, on a technical level, it's actually a well made film. It has a decent lead character, a truly evil and despicable villain, a finely paced story, good use of the camera, and even a pretty good soundtrack. Of course, none of that makes up for what is actually involved in the film, and you probably won't find me jammin' out to my brand new Serbian Film soundtrack CD. But I'm just saying that outside of the terrible, evil things that happen in the film, it's rather competently made.
As for how it stacks up to "Salo"... I'm not sure it does. To be perfectly honest, I found "Salo" to be more disturbing and vile. While "A Serbian Film" made me nauseated and upset, I was fine after a few hours--and then forgot most of the movie within the week. "Salo", on the other hand, stuck with me for days, and I still can't get some of that imagery out of my head. But there is one major thing, as I stated earlier, that makes Salo more evil and harder to watch--Salo is from the perspective of the evil-doers, and the events are shown in a cheerful, positive light; "Serbian Film", on the other hand, is from the perspective of the victims, so it's really not different than a highly disturbing horror film. Milos is just as disturbed and affected by the events as we are. I'm not using this comparison to advocate watching either one of them. But as the two have been compared, and as the newer of the two is often stated as being the most disturbing film ever made, I'm going to have to disagree.
Jason: Holy fuck, what do I say about a movie like this? Ok, if you ignore all the REAL fucked up parts, and just look at it as a film, it is shot brilliantly, the acting is very well done, and the story (again minus the fucked up parts) is good. What would one do to keep food on the table? Would any human really go through these lengths? And supposedly, this is supposed to be a symbolic film about the country of Serbia. I don't live in Serbia so I can't speak for that but if that's true, they should get out.
Nick: Specifically, I think it has to do with being a social commentary regarding censorship in Serbia. But regardless how you look at it, it's a messed up movie. I mean, yeah, if you look past all that stuff, it is very well done all around, but I'm not quite sure that makes up for the actual content of the film (specifically the last 45 minutes or so). I said it earlier, and I'll say it again. I don't mind never seeing this again. Ever.
Nick's Rating: WTF.