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A Serbian Film review

Heavily and somewhat unfairly censored Serbian horror finally makes it to some British screens...

Long in tooth and trouser departments, porn legend Milos (srdan todorovic) is lured out of retirement when a mysterious businessman gives his ego a stroke and splashes the cash.

Only Milos doesn’t know what he’s signing up for.

Told he’s about to front an “artistic statement”, he’s collected by granite-faced goons in black glasses and blacked-out limos and driven to set in deafening silence…

Chances are you already know more about Milos’ fate than he does. A Serbian Film is, after all, this year’s red-flag title, pulled from horror festival FrightFest when the BBFC requested three mins, 48 secs of cuts (compared to the 17 seconds snipped from the gruelling, tonally suspect I Spit On Your Grave remake).

Of course, Srdan Spasojevic’s adult thriller was always going to set the classifiers’ alarm bells clanging, offering as it does conflated sex and violence, children in a sexual environment, and – now fully excised – the instantly infamous “newborn porn” sequence.

None of which is half as distressing as it sounds; scenes are carefully blocked to avoid graphic gore, villains are pantomimic and the tone is closer to Hammer, Dr. Phibes and Hostel 2 than Last House On The Left, Irreversible or, an obvious influence, Pasolini’s Salò.

More camp than corrosive, A Serbian Film is hard to take seriously. Factor in the propulsive plotting and too-sleek direction and it’s clear a better title would have been A Serbian Movie.

Not that there isn’t serious intent. Spasojevic is here fashioning an allegory for Serbia’s war-torn plight, with the violence and violation representing, albeit opaquely, the lies, corruption and brutality foisted upon a people.

But the aesthetic is glossy, the content hysterical, and events hurtle towards a cataclysmic finale that would devastate were it not so predictable, overwrought and crushingly symbolic.

Big ideas, big opportunity lost, big overreaction by the BBFC. Shame.

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