by Adam Mason
A Serbian Film
by Srdjan Spasojevic
His first day is supremely weird. He's blindfolded and driven to what I take to be Vukmir's house where he is then led down a series of corridors where he witnesses what are either rehearsed scenes or just bizarre acts of cruelty. All the while he's filmed by two of Vukmir's hulking bodyguards. First he sees a woman slapping her daughter, then just down the hall, a woman separates them and tells the mother that she's unfit to raise the kid. Then Milos is driven home. The next day the men are outside Milos' door again ready to drive him back. This time he and Lejla have sex in a dark room, but Vukmir puts on three television sets playing footage of children just sitting in dark rooms. Well Milos has a hard time keeping it up and the next day meets with Vukmir to tell him he's had enough with the secrecy but most of all he's had it with all the children. Vukmir's response, "Why didn't you say so?" isn't what Milos wants to hear, but the businessman insists that it has to be this way. He use to work with kids and understands their psychology and if Milos would just watch some of the other stuff he's been filming, he'll totally understand. What he shows the horrified porn star, a giant man delivering, then fucking, a baby, sends Milos running terrified out of the house. I'm sure you or I would have had the same response. Only trouble is that Vukmir has drugged whatever Milos was drinking and when he wakes up the next day pissing blood with a hangover, he knows he's been thrust deeper into the murk than he ever wanted to go and once he remembers what happened last night, there will be no recovering.
An interesting idea, to be sure, if only Srdjan Spasojevic had done anything with it. Like Adam Mason, Spasojevic wastes his not inconsiderable craft and his desire to say something about modern life by instead making useless blanket statements and stupidly complicated plot contrivances. For instance, if Vukmir wants to craft some new horrifying brand of pornography, why the christ would he put all his efforts into doing it with someone who people would surely miss if he and his family went missing. Milos is not a nobody and it makes absolutely no sense that Vukmir would use him, especially to the degree he does. He doesn't even know him, so his vindictive treatment of him and his family makes no kind of sense either. Why wouldn't he find a criminal or a homeless guy, someone he could dissappear with no questions? Yes, yes I know the Serbian government and all that shit. But Milos seems perfectly comfortable, so what's the message? That the Serbs ruin middle class families? Why not the poor? Actually, come to think of it, who gives a fuck about Milos or his rich pornstar friends? He's an indifferent dad and husband and he lets himself get dragged in as far as he does without pulling the plug. I say who gives a shit! So, there goes the film's social relevance. So what's left? Penises killing people! So if you're super into that dig in! If like me you wanted a trifle more than just sex and murder being ramped up without actually changing anything, look away, you're not missing anything. It takes real talent to make that shit boring, yet here we are. And as if that weren't bad enough, Spasojevic takes every oppurtunity to make huge points about the state of the world and film and how dangerous it is and it all just feels like the most pretentious, unearned horse shit. Like because Spasojevic is as depraved as this he has the moral high ground somehow? Yeah, yeah and somewhere Hostel's being taught in colleges. I don't particularly like being taught by the guy who finds child rape so fascinating.