Funny Games (US) (2007)

Directed By: Michael Haneke
Written By: Michael Haneke
Starring: Tim Roth
  Naomi Watts
  Michael Pitt
  Brady Corbett
Funny Games (US)

Shot for shot remakes are an unusual beast, why would anybody want to see the exact same film again? Gus Van Sant showed us that this can rip the shine from even the most classic of movies, but out of an almost arrogant defiance, Michael Haneke went and did it anyway. Remaking your own movie for a wider audience would be a real misstep if you weren’t a director of Austrian art flicks, this one in particular, which is a comment on the voyeuristic nature of the film industry and, by extension, gore flick watching sickos like us.

Centering around a family being terrorised by a pair of sick teens for the audiences enjoyment, Funny Games purports to be an interesting thriller about the nature of on-screen violence. While it certainly exploits its theme in a manner that no one could ever accuse of being subtle, it isn’t necessarily a worthwhile experience. The acting train meanders through excellent and average with a few stops off at dogshit central. Haneke seems to have told his actors to let loose, with varying levels off success. Tim Roth and Naomi Watts play bad accent Dad and sobbing lump Mommy respectively, while Michael Pitt and Brady Corbett play psycho teens bent on torturing, maiming and terrifying said family.

A movie about movie violence aimed at fans of movie violence is definitely a bold move; attempting to tell us that what we like or enjoy is questionable, is quite frankly, a little offensive. The characters frequently interact with the audience which means that we bond more with the sadistic characters than with those in peril, which in turn makes us feel like even worse voyeurs which is no doubt the intention. The fact that the bulk of the violence occurs off screen makes the instances of violence that we do see all the more real, but with all of the violence existing in the realm of imagination it all seems a bit tame.

As there is no real plot to speak of, just a few scenes of torture tacked together with some truly awful dialogue, there isn’t a lot to keep you glued to the screen. Besides a few exciting beats, I found my eyelids getting heavier as the flick dragged on. While I agree that some of the best flicks have a message, this is not one I get on board with.

The idea of remaking the movie so the audience Haneke is talking about would see it is an interesting one, but the movie holds such little water that it all but nullifies the message. I would recommend that gorehounds watch the movie to see exactly what goes on in the mind of non-gore fans but for nothing else.

Rating: ★★★★★☆☆☆☆☆

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