Working Class Goes to Hell follows a small-town union’s struggle for justice after an industrial fire decimates a Balkan village, creating opposition as the owners evade responsibility. Ceca, the leader of the labor movement, is steadfast in her efforts, but the addition of Mija to the group ignites a fascination with paganism that causes strange occurrences and the emergence of a shadowy figure who targets dishonest people.
Orevi, who is renowned for his insightful analyses of authoritarian systems, weaves terror and black humor into a gripping story. With cynical humor and a dash of irreverence, Working Class depicts the disturbing fear of a population looking to the paranormal for salvation.
In this desperate environment, the arrival of two mysterious outsiders gives the hopeless a glimpse of hope. After attending a strange retreat in which he says he had mastered summoning abilities, Miya, the grownup son of one of the blaze victims, returns. The locals debate whether Miya’s talents are real or if he is just a charlatan as his deeds take on an increasingly occult appearance.
The second addition to the community, Elijah, mainly keeps to himself but is portrayed as a spiritual healer. People swarm to him in hopes of gaining courage, insight, or serenity through physical contact. This mysterious individual heightens the atmosphere of intrigue around the recent arrivals.
The exact character of these men, as well as their motives, are left unclear throughout the entire movie. Are they con artists taking advantage of the townspeople’s despair, or is there something otherworldly going on? As the plot develops, the group’s actions grow more and more chaotic, which causes them to descend into selfishness, avarice, and moral uncertainty.
In this way, Working Class Goes to Hell explores intriguing moral questions and the lengths that desperate people will go to in order to get what they think is rightly theirs, but it ultimately falls short of offering a scathing indictment of the system. Although thought-provoking, the movie’s conceptual investigation lacks the guts to seriously question the established norm in an effort which could lift it above predictability.
To hear our interview with Malden Djordjevic & Tamara Krcunovic, click here.
Working Class Goes to Hell is playing at TIFF ’23. For more information, click here.