Denouement: All Right, I’m Gonna Watch ‘A Serbian Film’


Last night's 4-2 Cardinals loss to the Rangers was one of the worst sports-viewing experiences of my lifetime. Because that World Series has a night off, I thought I'd complete the exacta and see if I could have the worst movie-viewing experience of our lifetime: I'm gonna try to watch "A Serbian Film."

What's "A Serbian Film," you ask? Well, child, come, sit. You know how "The Human Centipede (Full Sequence)" is already considered one of the most repulsive, disgusting films ever made? (And certainly one of the most unpleasant.) "A Serbian Film" (which is out on DVD today, you masochist) is supposedly like that, but only worse, because this one involves pornography. And also children. And also ... jeez, why am I doing this again? Well, if A.O. Scott can sit through it, so can I: Here's what he said about it:

Rape, incest, murder, torture, necrophilia — these words seem positively genteel in reference to the grisly scenes that Milos joins, mostly against his will. Newspaper-friendly euphemisms do not really exist for the images Mr. Spasojevic conjures up. Suffice it to say that they make the bad bits of Lars von Trier's "Antichrist" look like the Smurfs.

All righty! But maybe that's just Scott being an ole New York Timesian stick-in-the-mud. What do horror fans think of it? Let's go to the Bloody Disgusting message boards:

The film is repulsive. I say that with a smile on my face. I do not recommend this to anyone at all. I will never watch it again. It left me feeling horrible and low and disturbed. It's full of pedophilia, necrophilia, and pure sadism. It's not enjoyable at all but in that same breath, it's extremely well acted, written, and directed. The score fits the film extremely well and everything, though loathsome, is executed with artistic craft and precision. Do not see it. You don't want to. Trust me. No film has gotten under my skin and made me feel like this before.

Well. So, why am I doing this? Well, first, because I said I would. (I had been hoping you would forget.) But second: I've always been obsessed with testing the limits of what a person can withstand while watching a film. So much of movies -- so much of what I both love and fear about movies -- is about sensation, about spontaneous, involuntary emotional reactions that separate from ourselves, unique experiences that we never forget. That's the whole point of going to the movies. If there is a movie out there that is causing such reactions, I sorta feel like I need to see it. Not because I want those sensations, or that I want to remember them: I just want to study the experience, to see if I can learn more about what provokes us (or me), what is over the top, how much is too much. Maybe it'll end up being nothing? Maybe I'll be totally fine! It just feels like if I'm gonna be honest and true in writing about movies, I need to see everything there is to possibly see. And a movie that Bloody Disgusting says "is repulsive; DO NOT SEE IT," one that everyone is calling the most disgusting movie they've ever seen (while also noting that it's well-made; movie criticism!) ... that just seems like the type of thing I'm supposed to see. Whether I want to or not.

And I totally, totally don't want to. But here goes. I'll be writing about the experience next week. Pray for me.

[Ed. Note: This is where we'd ordinarily embed the trailer. But we are absolutely not doing that for this movie.]