‘The Life and Death of a Porno Gang’ Review

I think this is only the second Serbian film I’ve seen, following the notorious ‘A Serbian Film’, and well, I kind of have to hope that the pair of them are not representative of Serbian cinema in general. Like ‘A Serbian Film’ (to which this will doubtless be compared, but is tonally and stylistically quite different), it is really extreme in its content with an apparent political message.

It follows a young aspiring filmmaker in late 90s/early 00s Serbia who wants to make a Sci-Fi/Horror movie but ends up making porn out of desperation. After his situation worsens, he goes on the run with a ragtag group of misfits in a van, aiming to ‘educate’ Serbia’s rural communities with their erotic live shows.

This plan does not go particularly well for them though, but then they receive an unusual offer from a German financer; to instead make snuff films for him to distribute.

While the earlier half of the film does feature plenty of lurid, attention grabbing content, such as bestiality and gang rape, it is with the snuff scenes that it becomes truly disturbing. The whole film is shot in a hand held manner, which at first looks cheap, but ends up giving it a grubby edge of realism. Also, the injury effects are, in contrast to a lot of the film, highly professional, resulting in said snuff scenes coming across as highly realistic and all the harder to watch because of this.

The snuff victims are not, as you might expect, captured and murdered, but are volunteers. Their testimonies as to why they would want such a fate are also quite shocking. The picture it paints of post-war Serbia is not a pleasant one.

It’s the kind of film that is very difficult to say whether it’s good or not. I could not claim to have enjoyed it at all, but am unlikely to forget any of it in a hurry.

2.5/5

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