Few horror films actually disturb and divide viewers as radically, so it was a surprise to wander onto such sunny scenes with honey-hued production values. Yet as the film settles into its dark downward trajectory in its 2nd and 3rd (especially) acts, the colors grow grimmer and industrial and the sunshiny appeal vanishes like a layer of lacquer. Hope and love are about to be utterly drained from life and the world, leaving our bedraggled hero beaten by fate and pillaged of every last shred of human dignity. “You’re my he-goat,” the nefarious director informs our hero when he’s drugged, barely there, and beyond demonic.
Hints are planted early on that our hero’s involvement with the film-within-a-film could have dire consequences, which raises questions about the viewer’s own uneasiness when realizing that to continue watching the film is to be complicit in the drama on some ironic level. Although perhaps to suggest this is to disregard the design of the narrative, since the film’s second half is a Memento-like piecing together of disparate clues to mentally retrieve a forgotten day; a day which is surely to make the skin crawl of even the most jaded viewers.
Another argument against the complicity of the cineaste is that we believe in our hero, or at least care about his fate, continually hoping for his redemption, and so find his unfortunate journey to be a flood of horror and degradation more unimaginable than even the Marquis de Sade could have envisioned; his worst fears are not only realized: they obliterate all meaning.
Today is May 13, 2020, and A Serbian Film is currently streaming for rent at Flixfling.