I watched the consciously notorious Srpski Film (A Serbian Film) and have a few things to say about it. I'm putting these things after the jump since they are spoilery, but mostly because they are reflections on the most depraved piece of fiction I've ever experienced. If the "unique magic of rigor mortis" is already too graphic for you, move on, by god, move on!
Srpski Film opens with a young boy (probably around 6-years-old) viewing pornography that stars his father. By the end of the film, the boy is raped by his father (accidentally, although I saw it coming, which says everything about how obvious and wretched Srpski Film is). Almost every sex scene (the porn within the torture porn) involves a minor (a young girl, who appears to be 13 or so typically watches sex and/or sex and violence passively). The youngest of those minors is a newborn infant, who's raped by a man seconds after leaving the womb.
I'm telling you this now because I feel like you should know what we're dealing with. (I should also probably repeat that this is film is fiction and none of the heinous acts are real, lest you think I'm getting into snuff.) There are films that push the boundaries of what we consider explicit, and then there are exploding anuses. Srpski Film is the latter -- shocking to watch play out, unpleasant by nature and so, so lazy. A push and a grunt and director Srdjan Spasojevic had his film in the can.
The plot concerns ex-porn superstar/sexual athlete Milos (think John Holmes if he'd gotten a family instead of AIDS), who's hired by a director, Vukmir, to appear in an artistic-minded erotic film. That's about the only information Milos is given about the movie he's commissioned for. Vukmir promises him a lot of money -- so much that not even we are allowed to know the amount (when Milos tells his wife in bed how much he will earn, he whispers it in her ear even though they're the only people in the room). Milos spends the first half of the movie mulling over whether to appear Vukmir's movie, despite knowing nothing about its plot. The director is obviously keeping something from him, and while I have literally zero experience with child porn, if someone commissioned me for a porn movie and insisted I sign a contract without telling me about the content and being an ominous weirdo all the while, I would immediately think, "Oh, this must be for child porn. Yeah, no." Milos forges ahead, I guess because he's used to the upstanding porno industry, where nothing unsavory, fucked up or exploitative ever happens. What could go wrong? Trust a pornographer! He works in the industry of love!
And talk about not knowing one's industry -- as Vukmir (a former child psychologist) reveals his larger scheme after Milos signs on and has done plenty of fucking (and woman-beating) in front of a minor, he tells Milos that because Serbia "is one big shitty kindergarten," only through making their violent child porn "can we prove this nation is alive and useful for anything." He then shows Milos the aforementioned "newborn porn" work and christens it part of a new genre. Again: I know nothing about child porn, but I'm sure that this is not new. Babies have been raped and filmed before, obviously, because if something can be imagined and is in the realm of human possibility, some piece of human worthlessness has already done it. Newborn porn -- how reprehensibly passe. Know your genre, asshole.
When it comes to extreme cinema, I enjoy sitting back as detached as possible and watching what the film is doing to try to freak me out. However, I did not enjoy Srpski Film on any level. The amount of detachment needed to do so would require decapitation. It's one thing to set your movie in the realm of child porn -- it's risky territory for sure, but whatever. Child porn happens and it's conceivable to create a narrative that would not celebrate the deplorable, life-destroying practice, but incorporate it. It's not likely, but it's possible. Spasojevic plunders his chance by adopting a pornographic structure for the film's last quarter. In a stretch of gonzo filmmaking as base as any disjointed assemblage of actual fuck scenes, Milos retraces his steps during his final hours of filming in a series of flashbacks that come from him reviewing tape -- we experience random scenes of brutality, ass pumping and murder. See, Milos can't remember how everything turned out because he was drugged. "Cattle aphrodisiac" is the official story and really -- is that even a thing? And would Viagra for bulls make you so uncontrollable that you wouldn't realize you were fucking your son's 6-year-old's asshole (even if your son has a hood on)? Of course, Milos getting involved in this whole thing in the first place is nonsense. Like Vukmir's knowledge of his illicit medium, Milos' entire motivation is dubious -- he's just here as a vessel to shock us. If these characters weren't as foolish as possible, Spasojevic would not have a film. The explanation is so threadbare, Spasojevic would have been better not even considering the concept of rationale in the first place. It feels like he's invested in qualifying without really having a leg to stand on and the result is this wishy-washy brand of nihilism. And wishy-washy is the absolute worst thing nihilism can be.
Spasojevic and Srpski Film co-writer Alexsander Radivojevic have said that the depravity of this movie is a metaphor to show how people in Serbia feel "fucked from birth through death." I think the first rule of metaphors must be: DON'T LET YOUR METAPHOR RAPE A BABY. Just as there are certain things that cannot be unseen, there are certain things that can be seen only. If Spasojevic is even being honest in the first place (again, let's trust a pornographer), he's essentially allowing his film to cannibalize itself. (In the spirit of depravity, I can't imagine him minding that so much, actually.) The bottom line is that Srpski Film assaults us with The Worst Thing Possible by venturing into mostly unexplored territory that still feels obvious (no shit you're going to repulse and piss people off with depictions of child porn!). It made me angry in the same way that the animal torture in Cannibal Holocaust does. That was real, Srpski Film is fiction, and that they're equally offensive to our intelligence is no small feat.