Tuesday, June 8, 2010

Funny Games. C+


This is the 1997 version of Funny Games. In 2008, director Michael Haneke remade his own film for American audiences. I haven't seen it and don't really plan to. It's apparently identical to the original the same way Gus Van Sant's Psycho was to Hitchcock's 1960 classic. This is a haunting, terrifying movie that I don't plan to revisit, be it the American version or this one. It's hard to really classify the film in terms of its genre. It could be seen as an experiment, but to me, it's a horror film. It's about a a family who gets taken hostage by two vicious young men while on vacation. Nearly the entire film takes place in the family's vacation house, where the two men intrude and reveal their plan to have the entire family dead by morning. What I didn't like about the movie was how the family had no way of defending themselves. In nearly every horror movie, the villain has to work to kill his prey. Here, it's as easy as a game. That being said, Haneke has undeniably given us something new with Funny Games. The movie, while simple, must be one of the most original thrillers ever made. And it's also very well crafted, as are all of Haneke's pictures. Haneke purposefully moves the story along at a languid pace, adding to the intensity of the situation. Close to the end of the movie there's one agonizingly long take that shows the aftermath of the first death. Haneke spends several minutes on the same shot, and the result is a devastating one. There's a lot to admire in the film, and while its freaky, the violence is minimal. But watching helpless innocent victims isn't a whole lot of fun. In horror movies we sometimes get this for one scene maybe at the end. But for an entire movie? No thanks.

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