Take a Drink: for foreshadowing
Take a Drink: each time the violence escalates
Take a Drink: for any mention of games
Take a Drink: for fourth wall abuse
Take a Drink: every time Peter makes fun of Paul’s weight
Do a Shot: when you hear the title
Do a Shot: for that fucking remote
By: Henry J. Fromage (Two Beers) –
When I first watched Funny Games, I did it wrong. The Friday that Michael Haneke’s Hollywood remake came out, Oberst and I watched the original 1997 film while eating some pizza (itself a poor decision… marinara) and then straight over to the nearest theater to our University and watched the remake.
We shoulda saved the money and just hit ‘Restart’.
The utter sameness of the two films produced a whiteout effect that’s kept me from bothering to revisit either, but when my wife said she wanted to see it I figured the time was ripe. Funny Games is about an average upper middle class German family who find themselves under attack in their vacation home by two sadistic young men who just want to play some… funny games.
Michael Haneke has made a career of unflinching portrayals of human frailties and cruelty, but Funny Games remains his most overtly provocative and vicious commentary on humanity. He forces us to examine our own attitudes towards violence as entertainment, by making an entertainingly violent film, then continually pulling the rug out from under our desensitized feet.
You will scream at this.
What makes this film such a confusing and memorable experience, though, is how Haneke employs so many stylistic flourishes that make the film, well… fun. From Arno Frisch and Frank Giering’s winkingly evil performances to savage, off-putting death metal interludes to Fourth Wall abuse that goes beyond breaking straight to obliterating this film has a style and verve that make the later heart-rending long takes incredibly impactful. The unending aftermath scene in particular sucks all the oxygen out of the room and leaves you feeling strangely guilty.
The Fourth Wall and/0r your Soul
As is often the case in Michael Haneke films, none of the characters are terribly sympathetic (except the kid and dog, I guess). The central, “normal” couple are clearly full of barely contained aggression themselves, as their impatience and rudeness to complete strangers would attest. They’re assholes, so it’s difficult to empathize until things get really bad, which happens to be more than halfway in due to how slowly the film starts. A punchier beginning with more agreeable characters would’ve made the plot and message even more effective.
Funny Games is both a devilishly entertaining domestic horror film and an indictment of a society where that’s not an oxymoron.