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The Greatest Movies We Never Want to See Again: ‘A Serbian Film’

‘A Serbian Film’s notoriety preceded its very release, premiering first at SXSW in 2010 in the midnight slot and eliciting a very strong, divisive reaction. The film follows retired porn star Milos, lured back for one last film with the promise of unimaginable fortune — the kind of money that will take care of his family for the rest of their lives. But there’s a catch: the director is an artistically-inclined nut job who refuses to give Milos a script, assuring him that the “performances” will be more realistic that way. Once Milos signs on and gets to “set,” he realizes he’s in for much more than he bargained for: a little girl shows up and watches various acts of sex and sexual violence, women are legitimately being abused and violated, and Milos is finding it hard to back out.

‘A Serbian Film’ came under fire for its use of children in the context of the sexuality and violence presented in the film, and the third act is notably grim and horrifically shocking. But underneath the intense violence and unwavering brutality, ‘A Serbian Film’ speaks to violent Serbian history and the way that violence begets violence, and so on. In the film’s most notorious and graphic sequence, a woman gives birth to a baby, who is immediately violated in ways which will not be detailed here — that scene, however disgusting and terrible, serves as a metaphor in the eyes of the filmmakers for what so many of the Serbian people have endured, and whether you buy into that platform or not, ‘A Serbian Film’ isn’t just a hollow film that seeks to shock for the sake of shock. Violence and unspeakable horror aside, the film is shot and edited beautifully, calling to mind the work of auteurs like Brian De Palma — a fact not even the biggest detractor of the film can deny.

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