Funny Games (1997)

By Brett Mullins

Released: 1997

Written and Directed by Michael Haneke

While visiting their vacation home in the country, Anna and Georg, a wealthy, middle-aged couple, are held hostage along with their son by two sadistic individuals. Though this description may sound generic, this film is nothing of the sort.

Director Michael Haneke has given the audience a difficult task in analyzing this film. As one peels back the layers of the plot, they reveal (in order, for the most part) typical gore horror themes, a satire of the genre, an intelligent play between social class and violence, and villains quite different from the typical psychological thriller. It suffices to say that there is a lot going on here.

Though seeming to lag at points, Funny Games has an unbreakable tension that makes the audience cringe but not in the traditional ‘someone took a machete to the face’ manner. This is accomplished by the excellent performances from the entirety of the cast and specific techniques such as breaking the fourth wall occasionally by the two villains. This creates an experience that is painful for the audience to watch, which accounts for the majority of the mass of negative reviews surrounding this film.

The villains are two twenty-something guys dressed in uniformly white golf outfits, featuring short shorts and gloves. This attribute somewhat catches the audience off guard, because antagonists are generally portrayed as lower class individuals. In a sense, this is similar to much of the fascination with American Psycho.

A minor but important element that likely goes unmentioned is the German language. While German has been criticized as an angry language, one cannot deny its ability to effectively articulate emotion throughout the film. Perhaps, this is a result of being a native English speaker, but this element gives the film an exotic and extra-expressive dimension that is rarely seen in cinema.

Rating: 8/10

1 comment:

  1. A few scenes are nothing but a cop-out! Almost that- and then I woke up type thing I wouldn't expect from serious horror. This film is very disturbing and as such unforgettable, but that fracture between what was sooo real and then became fantasy is unforgivable. Messed up a very real horror movie in the last 20 min. for no good reason. Stop watching after what is obviously the climax and true ending and be saved the disappointment! Not to spoil it, but wait til the last 15-20 min. After that- turn it off!