April 15, 2021

Horror Facts

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Michael Haneke: Funny Games (2007)

“So much stress for politeness sake.”

Michael Haneke has a temperamental academic background in psychology, philosophy and drama, studying at the University of Vienna but not as a fully committed student. As a young adult he had grown a strong contempt for schooling but was a big fan of education, by any means necessary. Haneke has said that “films should offer viewers more space for imagination and self-reflection. Films that have too much detail and moral clarity are used for mindless consumption by their viewers.”

Two young men take a wealthy family hostage inside of their picture-esque vacation cabin and subject them to horrifying and humiliating games.

Funny Games is a film in which the audience is put on the spot. In the spotlight, left to our own existential crisis’ or dilemmas. He dares you to stick around and endure the film in its entirety. Turning everyday household childish games into an act of unmistakable violence. Golf clubs are used, a game of hide and seek ensues and a possible strip tease fantasy. Chekhov’s Gun is a part of almost every movie. If there is an object presented in the film, than that object needs to have meaning and should be used as some sort of payoff. Well, maybe not the case here. There is a brilliant moment in this film that is completely unexpected and flips that theory or trope on its head and then rewinds it just to prove us wrong. Proving that this film can and will do whatever it wants, it’s completely subjective to the viewer on whether you’re with it or you’re not and if there was a little bit of hope, it has now been entirely ripped away.

This is an unforgettable movie with some amazing performances from Naomi Watts, Michael Pitt, Brady Corbet, and Tim Roth. Roth’s character George, was written almost as a throw away character because he had no arc, no fight, no willingness to do anything in protection of his wife and child. The only real use for him was the projected caricature of a very wealthy man. With the entire film decked out in white, there is some aer about it that breathes light into an otherwise soulless film. An exact shot for shot replica of his 1997 Austrian film of the same name. Me even writing this review in praise of the film is exactly why Haneke made this for the North American audience. We love this sort of thing. We have been raised on violent and hateful cinema to the point of desensitization, but at the core of this film is shock and awe and for some reason that captures 75% of movie goers today. We hate these kids but I think deep down we also dislike Ann (Naomi Watts) and George (Tim Roth) for living this rich, excessive, indulgent lifestyle.

There is some pacing issues within just over the half way mark that took me out of the moment, just only for a bit and had me quickly check the time bar. It definitely does pick back up for a great finish but could have benefited from cutting the running time by 10 – 15 minutes or so. That being said, this is a really great film. Its shocking, brutal, suspenseful, agitating, nihilistic, or whatever other words I could muster up to describe the uneasy feeling it gave me. The Thrash/Death Metal music scene is alarming and the unbelievable use of time manipulation in another scene is clever and pristine. Breaking the fourth wall can be a brave move that doesn’t pay off, but I believe it was used unapologetically and worked out quite well in this film. Paul (Michael Pitt) teases the audience a few times, letting us know that – yes – this film is going to go the way it was set-up in the beginning and are you going to stick around for the ride or leave before its too late.

I rate this film 4 out 5 
8 out of 10

“Whether by knife or whether by gun, losing your life can sometimes be fun”