A small-town labour union turns to the dark arts for empowerment against the corrupt forces in their community in Mladen Đorđević’s timely and disturbing socio-horror satire.
Working Class Goes to Hell
Five years after a factory fire claimed the lives of several workers and, with them, the primary livelihood of a rural Balkan town, the plant’s union is met with a debilitating blow in their fight for reparations. Long suspected of causing the fire in order to privatize their property, the owners have succeeded in evading legal consequence and the workers are cast as ungrateful nuisances, obstinate in the face of capitalistic progress. Stoic labour leader Ceca (Tamara Krcunovic) refuses to give up hope, but her position grows tenuous when the collective begins to develop a fascination with the pagan practices of its newest member, Mija (Leon Lucev). After Mija leads the union in a ritual that belies a satanic undertone, strange occurrences begin to be reported around town, including the enigmatic manifestation of a decrepit man, seen stalking the most corrupt citizens.
Serbian vanguard filmmaker Mladen Đorđević once more offers up a view of the disturbing absurdities of living under an oppressive oligarchy and, as with his notorious cult hit The Life and Death of a Porno Gang, his incisive reflections transcend typical genre trappings. As his proletarian protagonists turn towards the supernatural, Đorđević skillfully soaks their increasingly eldritch activity in an absorbing chiaroscuro horror aesthetic, conjuring a malaise of uncomfortable dread. Yet he also impressively cuts this tone with such sly and sardonic satire — not to mention a healthy dose of irreverent full-frontal nudity — one is reminded that sometimes the only salvation for the working class, besides solidarity, is a sharp sense of humour.
Official Selection, 2023 Toronto International Film Festival
Content advisory: violence, horror, sexual content, nudity, coarse language