Sunday, 20 March 2011

Funny Games

Original and Thought Provoking, 18 July 2010

Author: gary-444 from United Kingdom

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A genuinely creepy take on the "terrorised at home" genre which is both inventive, and scary. The conceit of remaking your own film after only ten years exercised by Director Michael Haneke is a debate all on its own. But its transposition from a mid European backwater to affluent USA works.

The premise is simple, a wealthy couple (Naomi Watts and Tim Roth) and their eight year old child arrive at their holiday home and are then attacked terrorised and murdered by two teenage assailants. What makes this film different is that we are asked to watch this knowing that we are a crucial part of the film dynamic as the audience. At some points we are addressed directly, and at another the story is rewound. So as this tale of gratuitous violence unfolds, the audience cannot "enjoy" it, they are asked to question how they could, or why they would, enjoy it.

The "rules" of cinema are gleefully trashed. The dog doesn't survive, it "gets it" first, the cute kid doesn't survive, he is blown away with a gun, the mother is told to strip, but we don't get to see her naked, the Dad is not a hero he is an impotent spectator. And all of the time as this horrific violence is unleashed, it is always off screen. The message is that if you thought that you as an audience were going to get off on some sex and violence, you are mistaken, it is for the participants only. And the assailants themselves are never less than perfectly, and absurdly, polite.

Funny Games prides itself on the surreal. The bad guys are dressed in white, and wear white gloves. The setting is peaceful. The psychotic teenagers initially ask for eggs, which are deliberately broken in extended scenes. The metaphor of the fragility of suburban life, decency and everything around us gruesomely exposed.

It isn't perfect, and it probably is too long. But it is also original and a thought provoking antidote to the standard home invasion slasher fare most recently reincarnated with the remake of "Last House on the Left" and "The Strangers", and is a more successful examination of popular culture's fascination with violence than say Oliver Stone's "Natural Born Killers", it's natural bedfellow is probably "A Clockwork Orange". Perversely, those who enjoy slasher, horror gore are likely to be disappointed by this film whereas those who don't like it are likely to enjoy it.


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