Marko is a filmmaker with ambitions who ends up doing pornographic movies to get money. While in the business he decides to evolve the simple porn industry by starting up a porno theatre. Of course, the cops raid the place and they have to stop the show. This is where they come up with the idea of taking the show on the road. After some unfortunate events they end up having to kill people on camera to get money to survive.
I'm gonna start by saying that this is a re-vised review, where in my first review I did a lot more comparisons with "Srpski Film". I have decided to change the review a bit after I received the review copy from Njutafilms (which is actually a rather nice release and I'm happy to see a release of this here in Sweden) and make it less grumpy about the two movies and what they share (and don't share). Since the first review, I have also included this film in my "Best of 2010"-list. So as you might know, I think this is a great movie and Njutafilms just got a gold star in my book. Actually, looking at their list of upcoming titles they will be receiving more gold stars with titles like "Dogtooth" and "The Exterminating Angels".
The big difference between this and "Srpski Film" is to me that "Srpski" is more like a fine polished exploitation that focused on brutality, while "Life and Death of a Porno Gang" was a very good drama movie. It was more interesting in terms of style and story (the documentary feel ran out pretty fast though, and felt like any fictional movie after a while) and I ended up caring more about the characters (the white trash/hippie lifestyle made everything seem more believable, actually). It has a good build up and by the end of the movie you really feel as if you've been gone a far way from where they started (something I always enjoy). In the beginning of the movie I felt it was going a bit too fast forward, but once they hit the road it settled down in pace and found a good way to go from there. I personally could've seen a longer movie but I don't think the majority of people would agree with me on this, and it was probably for the better to push a few things forward. But some of the best moments is in the beginning where they show some of the films he made - some were brilliant!
The acting stays excellent through the entire film, I think that was a deal breaker for this film. It's so character-based on an emotional level that having bad acting would ruin it completely. The audience likes the lead, and we care for him even though he is making snuff films. That's a testament of good acting and writing, I think. But there are characters that got on my nerves, but that was probably on purpose. That and we have an entire gang as main characters, eventually some of them will get annoying.
One down side to this film is the effects. They show us enough to understand what is happening, and enough so we don't feel cheated. But yes, the effects aren't anything to write home about but the scenes were still pretty intense if you ask me. And of course, the second negative thing would be the animal scenes, but considering they are fake they serve a purpose. They also showed the personality of one of the gang members. There's also a violent scene involving a goat that I'm not sure if it was real or not. It looked real but yet it didn't, so I'm not sure where I stand on that point. Luckily these scenes are a tiny part of the movie so it's not a make or break deal.
I see a bright (or pitch black, rather) future in Serbian filmmaking between this and "Srpski Film". I personally think both are good movies, this one just happen to be a lot better in terms of plot, and more interesting in character depth. It might seem odd to some, but if someone who likes "Murder-Set-Pieces" asked me for a good film I'd say "Srpski Film", but if a fan of Gaspar Noé asked me I'd say "Life and Death of a Porno Gang". Gaspar Noé is a big favorite of mine, and I am happy to find films like "Life and Death...", "Criminal Lovers", "Baise-Moi" and "S." that have a similiar feel and style. Even though I know they are very different from Noé's films, they are worthy of being compared to them.
Overall, I think if you enjoy dark drama movies along the lines of titles I've mentioned earlier, you should give this one a shot. It features some nasty things without letting them be the focus of the movie, and what makes the movie work so well is the development of the gang. It has plenty of scenes that are in many ways pornographic, but saying that "Life and Death of a Porno Gang" is nothing more than a porno is stupid. I expect this movie to get a cult following any time soon.