In 2011, horror cinema finds itself in a tricky position. More accurately, it finds itself stuck between a rock and a rock hard erection loitering with intent at the edge of a girl's mouth as eels fly out of her anus and feces dribbles down her chin. How do you scare or gross out kids when anything you can find in the darkest corners of your own imagination has already been dredged up by someone else with an internet connection?
In recent times, directors have certainly had a crack at tackling the problem of a desensitised public. There's been the advent, of course, of the much discussed 'torture porn' era, a horror sub-genre that retched through Lars Von Trier's Antichrist and Steven R. Monroe's I Spit On Your Grave before reaching an ugly climax with 2009's The Human Centipede. Somehow, though, even this happy tale of shit-swallowing and having a corpse's arse for a field of vision was boring enough to prompt a clumsily-titled hardcore spin-off called The Human Sexipede.
While that was easy enough for filth-hardened Western audiences to laugh off, Srdjan Spasojevic's charming A Serbian Film didn't exactly have people rolling in the aisles. Its portrayal of the rape of a newborn baby, a scene in which the film's star, Srdjan Todorovic, decapitates a woman and fucks her headless torso, and another where a victim has her teeth pulled out before being suffocated to death with a cock proved enough to summon the spectre of Mary Whitehouse back to the land of the living.
All the old art/trash arguments played themselves out as they have done a million times before following the detonation of such devastating cultural nukes as Elvis' swinging hips and Anna Friel kissing another lass on TV. For some reason, though – perhaps a willingness to tally A Serbian Film's gross out sensibilities with an internet-corroded (anti-)social hivemind – no one seemed to want to trace Spasojevic's rank vine back to root.