Throughout the decades of horror history, a whole lot of films have been claimed to be the hardest watches ever made. Peeping Tom in the 60’s, Salo, in the 70’s, the gamut of Japanese Guinea Pig films, and in the 80’s, and stuff like the French new wave and Asian extreme in the 00’s. But since its release in 2011, no film has even come close to what very might be the pinnacle of cinematic revulsion, “A Serbian Film”.
I won’t be discussing the most intimate details of this film because A: They are based around topics not easily discussed even on a horror sight and B: The scene’s content, for the question I’m seeking to answer, doesn’t really matter. Suffice to say these two scenes are absolutely the most extreme I’ve ever seen in a film, and I imagine that nearly anyone who doesn’t dabble in actual snuff films will have seen. To put it bluntly, this is some nasty messed up stuff y’all.
To quote Bloody Disgusting’s beautifully written review from Tex Massacre:
You don’t want to see Serbian Film. You just think you do. You’ve been far too desensitized. You’ve laughed at people that fainted in theaters, snickered at legends of grown men and women who walked out of movie premieres and puked on lobby floors. You think you’ve seen it all and after this, you’ll wish you had.
If you really must see A Serbian Film I highly advise at least reading the Wikipedia article first, which notes the film is controversial for depictions of rape, necrophilia and child sexual abuse. Once again, this is some nasty messed up stuff y’all.
This is a movie I wish had never been made, but not necessarily one I wish I had never watched. As long as something like “A Serbian Film” exists, people are going to seek it out. And maybe it’s what we deserve, us fans of the extreme ever hungry for the next revulsion, the next thing that will finally go to far.
A Serbian Film is likely as terrible and rough a fictional film as will ever be made. There are at least two scenes I won’t soon forget, and if they haven’t changed my life in the hyperbolic way some critics have written about the film, they have certainly changed the way I view horror movies forever. The Human Centipede Part 2, released a year later and noted itself as one of cinema’s most hard to watch films, is like a toddler with mittens to A Serbian Film’s Mike Tyson with brass knuckles.
It would not surprise me a bit, that should I live to age 100, I never see a fictional movie so extreme as A Serbian Film.
But the distinction, the distinction that needs to be made with up most importance, is fictional. This is a fake movie, with actors playing fake characters, doing vile fake things, after reading the vile, fake script. Compared to the awful things in the world, the awful things available on the internet, there is simply no comparing a movie to real life horror.
All you have to do is look at the news to see stories of child mutilation, murder, rape, and violence of unprecedented levels, in both developed and undeveloped countries. While watching A Serbian Film you have the choice to leave the theater, to turn off the television, to shut the laptop. This under laying level of safety is something billions of people who face things most of us could never imagine don’t have.
I don’t recommend you watch “A Serbian Film.” Despite a NC-17 rating, it’s a remarkably juvenile movie, playing out like the mad ramblings of a third grader who rips wings off butterflies. If you watch it just to say you watched it, more power to you, although that isn’t the kind of thing I’d want to brag about.
End of the day though, I don’t think it’s possible for a piece of fiction to go too far. Maybe in 20 years A Serbian Film 2: Electric Boogaloo will come out and prove me wrong. But as long as the horrors of the real world exist outside our door, I don’t see that happening, with any film.
P.S. (If you’re the type of person who watches actual snuff films, get some serious help.)