Funny Games (1997)
Director: Michael Haneke
Writer: Michael Haneke
Starring: Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Muhe, Arno Frisch, Stefan Clapczynski, Frank Giering
Review By: Griff
I may have mentioned this before but several years ago I started a thread on IMDB looking for some of the more “disturbing” movies that people had seen. Not necessarily movies that were ridiculously gory but movies that people had seen that stuck with them afterwards. Movies that haunted people for a few days after they saw them. It took me to weird places like Fat Girl, and Cannibal Holocaust it also led me to Michael Haneke’s Funny Games.
The movie starts with Georg and his wife Anna driving to their lake house for a vacation. In the car they have their young son Georgie and their dog Rolfi. Once they arrive at the house they meet their neighbor Fred who is accompanied by two young men. Fred introduces the two men named Peter and Paul as acquaintances visiting from out of town.
Before long Peter and Paul start showing up at the house and imposing themselves on the family in increasingly frustrating ways. Eventually Anna tells Georg to force them to leave. Things turn from simply being annoying to serious and deadly. Paul kills the family dog and Peter breaks Georg’s leg with a golf club. Peter and Paul then hold the family hostage. They start forcing the family to participate in a series of “games” in order for the family to stay alive. Things spiral out of control quickly and Georg and Anna realize that Peter and Paul mean to torture and kill them before 9 am the next morning.
Funny games isn’t the first home invasion horror film but it does bring some interesting things to the genre. This isn’t just a horror movie, it is an assault on the audience. It breaks the 4th wall numerous times and the two villains literally taunt the viewers. At one point Paul even picks up a remote and rewinds the movie on us.
The movie challenges our conventions of what we think a horror movie should be. It purposely goes against the grain of traditional horror formulas and throws it back in the viewer face. It attacks the media and violence and is anything but a traditional horror film.
Funny Games is definitely not a movie for everyone. This is an unrelenting film that doesn’t lead to happy endings. Since this movies release 16 years ago there have been a lot of other movies made that try to one up Funny Games and the genre has become a bit saturated. Haneke even remade the movie with an American cast back in 2007. The result of all this is that movie has lost some of it’s emotional impact over time. For those up to the challenge though, this is still a movie that is worth checking out. I give Funny Games 2 1/2 guys.