Funny Games [DVD] 
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In this exploration of our violent society and how depictions of violence reflect and shape our culture, a middle-class family submits both physically and mentally to the torture, violence, and death foisted upon them by two young, unexpected, white-gloved visitors at their vacation retreat near a lake.
Michael Haneke is a modern master, which his spellbinding films Cache and The Piano Teacher proved to an international audience. When it came time for a Hollywood remake of his ultra-disturbing 1997 picture Funny Games, who better than Haneke himself to helm the new version? And indeed, the second Funny Games bears the impeccable sense of control and technique that the Austrian version had: it is a horrifyingly precise account of a family terrorized by two psychopathic young thugs at a vacation home. For anyone who's already seen the '97 film, this new one--a nearly shot-by-shot transcription of the original--will seem superfluous, no matter how impressive the performances of Naomi Watts and Tim Roth are. (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet are suitably creepy as their menacers, too.) For newbies, the movie might be as infuriating and thought-provoking as Haneke intends it to be. That's because Funny Games is an intellectual game itself, a direct rebuke to the audience that gobbles up gratuitous violence and cynical manipulation. Haneke sets up our expectations, and then refuses to provide the conventional catharsis... or the conventional anything. All of this was pretty bracing in the first go-round, but feels like gamesmanship in the remake. Even if you dig what Haneke's up to, this is a brutal movie-watching experience. --Robert Horton --This text refers to the Blu-ray edition.See all Product description
Top customer reviews
The uncomfortable and tense atmosphere is felt right from the beginning, as soon as the heavy metal rock music kicks in as the family drive off to the lake house, through to the psycho's odd behavior as they first walk through the door to the finish. German director Michael Haneke originally made the German version in 1997 but wanted to remake it as he felt it was always intended for an American audience in English. 'Remake' should be used loosely as this is a shot-by-shot of the original. Haneke points his finger at an audiences desire to be scared and be entertained by gratuitous violence in movies, and uses this movie to make this point. We feel frustrated throughout the movie, especially in certain scenes when you think there may be a breakthrough, only to receive a metaphorical gut punch. Disturbing this is, but in a different way then I expected. This is not a jumpy horror, rather a complete psychological head attack. Any violence is done off screen and you hardly see blood (just one scene where it is shown),however the horror aspect lies in within the situation and the complete powerlessness of the captives. Often hearing a scream of agony off camera is worse than actually seeing it.
'Funny Games' is definitely not going to be everyone's cup of tea, but there's no denying it's brave boldness and non-conformity. The actors are amazing, especially Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet as the house invaders. Tim Roth is also great and acts mainly with facial expressions and emotional intensity, as does Naomi Watts who really shows her vulnerability here.
If the purpose of a great film is to be memorable, than this fulfills it's purpose. This will stay with people for some time, whether they want it to or not!
I like horror, love suspense but hate gore. So on the surface this film should have scored well except it doesn't. There's no gory scenes, but equally there is no suspense. Within the first 20 minutes i knew it would be a film where everyone dies.
On the face of it, this film probably reflects more realistic behaviour and reactions of a middle class family faced with intruders in their home, i.e be quiet, be still, be rational, do as they say, don't fight back - while we all like to think in the face of danger we'd all pull out our best Arnie moves, the truth is we probably wouldn't.
When you haven't lived a life where violence has been a part of it, when you haven't ever needed to physically defend yourself - then the sudden presence of violence in the middle of the afternoon on what would normally be a calm day within the confines of your tranquil home, probably would render most of us too confused and under prepared to deal with the situation in a fighting back sense.
However, the parts of the behaviour that jolted me out of the film really ruined any sympathy for the main characters. Your child is being strangled and is yelping for help and you as the mother have one instruction - remove your clothes - how many times would a mother need to be asked when her child's life is at risk? I was at the point of yelling - your kid is going to die, what's wrong with you - do something! I felt panic, the mother character though didn't. She was more portraying someone who was weighing up their options. Almost like she was looking at her son, trying to decide if his life was worth her being naked. This in turn made me lose sympathy fast.
This further compounded that when the child was shot the mother did nothing. She didn't go to her son, made no attempt at trying to save his life, didn't cradle him, she did nothing. Added on to that and watching the father eat a piece of bread 10 minutes after his son had been shot and the whole thing as being realistic fell apart in my eyes.
The key behaviour missing from this film is sheer panic and without it the main characters come across as cold and by the end i didn't care what happened to the parents. I just felt pretty miffed at them for not doing enough to protect or comfort their son throughout the first part of the film.
So while this film is trying to make a point about violence in films being used as entertainment and decides to give us none - it loses us on that journey by patronising its audience and having us feel nothing for the people involved.
For me i enjoy thrillers and horror, not because i enjoy violence (i actually hate it) but because it makes me question 'what would i do in that situation?'. Hence why home invasion films appeal to me.
This film did make me question, in terms of fighting back, whether I would react the same - but in my soul i know if it was my loved one, my sense of utter panic over their safety would have me do 'something', even if that was simply following orders as quickly as possible.
And it's this 'something' that is missing, making it just like most other films of its genre, totally unrealistic.
If you like home invasion I'd recommend something like 'Hush' instead, not overly gruesome but the film hangs in the balance of doing something or giving up.
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