When horror isn’t horror: A Serbian Film

I’m not hosting this in my movie reviews section as I don’t think this film deserves a place there.  It would be rated 0, the only film to earn such a low rank, and I’d go negative if I could. Consider this, instead, a warning to avoid this blight.

You may have heard of the movie A Serbian Film.  It’s listed as a horror movie, but I would disagree with that label.  The events in the film are horrific, certainly, but this movie isn’t intended to truly strike your terror receptors.  Instead, it’s designed to disgust you in a very human way.

Like the Hostel or Saw franchises, A Serbian Film is better classified as torture porn.  In the case of this film, that description is spot on, as the movie itself revolves around a director shooting a porn film, or perhaps snuff film would be a better term. Eli Roth can argue all he wants about how “torture porn” is a misnomer, but honestly this film truly is intended to push your limits.

The makers of the film wanted to make a statement, to draw parallels between the horrifically violent images in the movie and the plight of the Serbian people.  The message is completely lost, however, in the visceral nature of the film.  They leave nothing to the imagination, and therefore don’t truly deserve for this film to be called a “horror movie.”  They seemed to be more interested in just how disgusting they could be with little regard for any message.

I won’t go into details about the film itself.  You can check out the Wikipedia plot summary for that.  I will admit that I have not watched the film all the way through – I couldn’t.  First because the beginning is perhaps the most boring piece of drek ever filmed and second because some of the later scenes are downright nauseating.  I would compare this film to Cannibal Holocaust, but this film both goes further and has modern film making techniques that make the scenes far more realistic.

I would recommend to anyone who reads this not to watch this film.  It’s not a horror movie, it’s an assault on the senses.  That might sound exciting, but it’s not, and there are parts of this film that will make you question the sanity of the director.  Even that sounds tantalizing, but there’s nothing to be gained from watching this.  It’s a gaping hole in humanity itself, a rotten void that does not need exploring.

The same might have been said about John Waters’ films, or the early 80’s Italian horror masters, or even the infamous Two Girls, One Cup.  This movie, however, goes beyond even those shock films into a new realm of depravity.  Rape, torture, murder, these are all presented in lurid detail, with little or no attempt to really frame the scenes as part of an overall narrative.  Stephen King said in Danse Macabre:

“I recognize terror as the finest emotion and so I will try to terrorize the reader. But if I find that I cannot terrify, I will try to horrify, and if I find that I cannot horrify, I’ll go for the gross-out. I’m not proud.”

This film doesn’t try to terrify or horrify and skips directly for the gross-out, with absolutely nothing in between.  Perhaps the film makers wanted to appeal to the darkest part of our primal, primitive brain, but instead they’ve done little more than activate a gag reflex.


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