I have thought long and hard about writing a review/critique of this movie, as the sheer possibility that it might give someone the idea of seeing it that might not have heard of it prior to me writing this. However I feel obliged to warn people after still being haunted by what I saw the night I sat down to watch this film. I can say that there are some things I think the public needs to be warned of prior to doing, especially if that thing has the potential to do harm. If you find a way to rent or buy this movie I am assuming it will be unrated, that doesn’t do it justice or warn you of what you are getting into. In all fairness anything less than an X rating should be unacceptable and unrated rating is just a malicious concealment of what takes place in the film. Before I get to what will be a short review of this film, I am compelled to write about the events that led me to watching it in the first place.
I love film, not like, but love. All I ever wanted to do when I was growing up was two things, make video games and make films. As a 35 year old man I can say those were not just childhood fantasies but still a burning desire in my very soul. The very reason I went into the field i went into is I saw it as the quickest way to amass enough money to be able to do my passion on my own terms. I have spent two decades studying, reading, analyzing and learning the ins and outs of the film (and gaming industry), as well as the technical aspects of both. This is how seriously I take watching films, whether they are small indie films, to big budget blockbusters. I don’t just watch it, I take it apart piece by piece to take away the amazement of what is seen on the screen and to be entertained by the subtlety of some genius I see today, and the many geniuses in the past. This passion for film leads me to watch any film that I have time for that I have heard of no matter what genre and no matter its budget. To be able to appreciate the good and to learn what makes a good film I feel that I should also see what makes a bad film and to examine where the director/actors/producers/script went wrong. One genre I find especially difficult to make well is the horror genre. My wife and I enjoy horror films with the best of them, it is something we like to do together as some couples like to go hiking or out to eat dinner at different restaurants. We love to watch horror movies and see which ones have their intended effect, and even look for one of those gem horror films that might even give you a little scare or have a great ending or scene that sits with you later on.
So that leads me to this film that came to my attention one night where I saw the trailer for it on some trailer website which I honestly don’t remember. It looked really intense and on some levels the trailer should have warned me about the real direction of the movie, I realize you have to read between the lines but the warning was there. In the trailer it gives you the impression that this movie is about a character getting involved in something he shouldn’t, for the very same reason that many people get involved in things they shouldn’t, money. He is a retired Serbian porn star, that is now living a “normal” existence with his young pretty wife and his cute 10 year old boy. His money is running low as he doesn’t do those films anymore so just like the devil himself, in walks opportunity. One of his old fellow porn stars walks back into his life and says she has an offer for him to play in a new genre of porn that pays a lot of money. How much money you might think would entice someone to play in a very shady endeavor from the start. They never say, but the implication is that it is a good deal of money that he wouldn’t have to worry about money ever again. So much money that even his wife was supportive of him doing it after he whispered to her how much it was. Why the money is important is that it makes you wonder the types of people who have enough individual wealth in this world to get all the illegal and disgusting things they want to get done with it. Well anyone can guess where this is going, and in the trailer you get the idea that this movie will be about this guy getting involved in a snuff film of sorts and maybe fights his way out of it and there will be some blood and gore and the end. A typical guy gets in over his head because he needs money and then he changes his mind and tries to back out of the very thing he originally agreed to. Something about the trailer though got me thinking that it might not be just that, and it stirred my curiosity a bit, however I forgot about it for some time as life makes you do that sometimes.
A couple weeks later I see a friend of mine when I was out and we got to talking, and I know this person loves horror films as much as me and my wife do, so naturally I tell her about this movie and maybe she should check it out. She respects my opinion and decides to get it. I hear nothing about it again for a month or so, then one day I feel a hand on the back of shoulder and a DVD put into my chest when I turn around. It is the friend that I recommended watch this film, almost throwing this DVD at me. She basically tells me how horrified she was watching it, and how disturbing it was, and blames me. She said it is resonating with her now every night she goes to bed and she wanted it out of her house. I apologized for telling her about it and took the DVD, and then she asked me if I saw it yet. I told her no I had not had the time and I just forgot about it. This made her a little angrier and said I shouldn’t recommend movies to people until I have seen them myself. She was completely correct about that, and I learned a lesson from that interaction, I apologized again and she left but not before giving me a warning. She made it very clear to not let my wife watch this movie, I laughed that off when she said it, then she grabbed my arm and repeated that I really should never let my wife see this movie.
Well later that night I was compelled to see what all this is about, and my imagination started to wonder, and I have a vast unique imagination that sometimes even scares me. I came to the conclusion that this must have had some violence towards children in it or at least implied violence and my wife probably wouldn’t take it well as we have two young boys ourselves. When I got home I told my wife about this interaction and that I will screen this one on my own before I let her watch it. She at first said that is silly and she knows it is just a movie, but I insisted and she agreed. So around 10pm that night when my wife went to bed I sat down to watch it. What I was not even thinking of as I turned it on, is that sometimes in life maybe you should go with your gut, my gut said not to watch it. Sometimes in life things are seen things that cannot be unseen no matter how much you want to.
The first 55 minutes of the movie was actually pretty interesting, it was intense but wasn’t over the top any more than some other films I had seen and you got the impression of a certain direction that the movie was heading. Intense and suspenseful was the best way I can describe the first 55 minutes. The trailer gave you a good idea of what to expect up that point, and that is exactly what it showed. It was clearly a low budget foreign horror film with subtitles, but not your average one because it was surprisingly well made and put together by the director. His use of score at certain times and lack of score at others in addition to the surprisingly more than adequate acting by the different characters made me get into what is actually going to happen to these characters. He was building to something, and it wasn’t good for the main character and as a viewer you were imagining what that might be throughout the first 55 minutes as to where exactly this is going. There was even a point you started thinking this guy signed up to be in a violent porn film, didn’t realize and the rest of the movie is about him getting out of it. Interesting but I still did not get the response from my friend or what the big deal was up to that point. Then like a Mack truck smashing into your face the movie goes from your imagination to actually showing you things that you were not prepared for and shouldn’t be seeing. I cannot in good taste say what it starts to show you, but it is something that I never even imagined in my wildest nightmares. This director/writer actually decided to go to the line you don’t cross and leap beyond it to places I think are not necessary to go. If their point of making the film was to create a quality film on a low budget that grabs the viewer gets their attention and leaves them wanting to know the outcome, they accomplished that during the first 55 minutes of the film.
At the 56 minute mark of the film, something takes place that I have never seen on film before and hopefully never will again. This is not about gore or limbs getting sliced off or people eating people as in zombie movies. What you see starting at the 56 minute mark is so beyond that, and ultimately disturbs, repulses and violates every sense of internal decency one might have. I think the purpose behind what happens for the next 30 minutes is to show the level of depravity that takes place in this industry and in his country. It is almost as if he did not make this up and is speaking to us as the viewer through some level of experience which makes it much worse. Without revealing what the disturbing events are, I can say that the main character realizes the contract he signed with this director and production is truly binding. He figures out there is no way out, and he is actually the main character of the movie he is in and not the character he thought he was playing. The revelation that this movie is an actual snuff film on crack, steroids, PCP and adrenaline which is paid for by rich individuals from all around the world for people like him to actually make and sell to them illegally, is a sad and disturbing one. After the movie I kept thinking to myself that this could happen, that this could be real. I might have been a little overly sensitive to this because recently I had watched a report on CNN that talked about there being over 100,000 child sex slaves in the United States alone. That made me wonder that disturbed, disgusting rich people exist that use their money for perversion and horrific things. The more I thought of it the more my mind kept connecting the dots to the goings on in this film, whether that is a valid thought or not is not the point, it resonated with me and still does. So if what you see is left to the imagination of sick rich people and a sicker psychopathic character in the movie, the director, which the actor actually plays his part very convincingly. Sometimes you see a character in a movie and know something is wrong with this character, meaning he is up to no good. This character you know from the moment you see him that he is up to no good, but the level of dirtiness that this character is up to doesn’t get revealed until the end and starts to unravel at the 56 minute mark. What happens to the main character and the cast of characters that surround him as the movie comes to its climax is not only disturbing but utterly disgusting. I can say the movie shows almost everything except the specific visual of what would make it illegal to be put on film and distributed in real life, however the director does it in a way that he leaves it to your imagination but right in your face at the same time.
Ultimately what makes this entire project horrific isn’t that it is another bad B-Movie, with poor video and sound quality that some hack tries to say is performance art. This is a well made, well produced, well acted film out of Serbia that the director put together with surprising skill. I think he could have accomplished the goal and really gave himself a name to get funding for more projects if he would have just left out the parts that make the movie unbearable to watch. I would say that there is one good use of this movie though other than throwing it in the trash. Within our correctional facilities all around the world we house a good deal of sex offenders, and it is hard to know really which ones are capable of turning their disgusting sickness into the next level of violence. Well now we have the litmus test for the truly depraved and sick with this movie. I say we strap them into a chair very similar to the Clockwork Orange and force them to watch this movie and monitor them with probes and other devices that can test whether they are getting sexually aroused. If they are, then you have a sociopath to the ultimate level and they should never be let out into public. I am not saying that I think the makers of this film should be put into prison along side them, but I am saying I would definitely never let them babysit. I wish I would have read a review like this so I could have avoided what I saw, you have now been warned. I hope anyone reading this review will do the right thing and pass if anyone gives you the chance of watching this film or you just might be failing the sociopath test too.