Despite seeing the negative feedback in regards to Michael Haneke's remake of his own film (Funny Games - 1997), I insisted on watching it due to the fact that I'd been anticipating it for so long. And I'm so glad I did.
Funny Games is a thoroughly enjoyable, suspenseful thriller that will keep you on the edge of your seat.
It was supposed to be a perfect holiday in a perfect holiday home in a perfect little spot by the lake. George (Tim Roth - Dark Water) and Ann (Naomi Watts - The Ring 2) Farbour had the perfect family holiday planned with their son George jr. and dog Buddy.
But an unexpected visit from a polite and nervous Peter (Brady Corbert - Thunderbirds) is the start of their worst nightmare. Peter is soon joined by Paul (Michael Pitt - The Village), whom insists on 'trying out' George sr's top of the range golf clubs.
Soon after, things get suspicious; after Buddy's 'disappearance'. The two turn out to be deeply disturbed young men. They take the family hostage and force the family to play 'fun' games with them, after placing a 'bet' with them.
Having never personally liked Brady Corbert's performance in the Thunderbirds film, I found myself pleasantly surprised by his appearance as Peter the medical student whom believes you shouldn't forget the importance of entertainment. Corbert has certainly redeemed himself in my books.
Although taking its time in getting to the thrills and chills, Funny Games certainly makes up for the absence when it finally does reach the action. The film is almost like a guessing game, regretfully lacking gore or showing of the dead bodies, but this just adds to the chills as the viewer is left to their own imagination.
Michael Pitt certainly proves how fearful he can come across as during a chase scene through the neighbor's suspiciously deserted house. Approaching young 'Georgie' with an air of eerie calm and towering unpredictability. At two intervals, he pauses and breaks from the storyline to talk to the viewer personally and attempt to predict, question and mock the viewer's feelings.
The New York Times review says "To some extent, the same is true of “Funny Games,” which efficiently induces a state of panic and dread, and which features some fine bits of acting, especially from Mr. Pitt and Ms. Watts. The images Mr. Haneke puts on screen (they are shot with crisp, glossy-magazine elegance by Darius Khondji) are shocking, but they don’t unfold with the usual slasher-movie jolts of grisliness. The camera frequently stands still as the horror unfolds just beyond its range, and when a bloody event takes place, we are likely to be shown the face of a passive witness rather than that of the perpetrator or the victim."
I couldn't agree more with what they have to say.
The reviews on the online article of this film lacked praise and I found myself annoyed. One of the comments being: "Portray violence as much as you want, but don't make children, and the suffering of parents for losing them in such a disturbing manner, a part of "entertainment". This movie is sick! And I have lost more than a peace of mind for watching it - truly, I am sorry it exists and people actually put energy and life into making it."
In contrast to how I feel about the NYT's review, I couldn't disagree less with this concerned parent's opinions. It is understandable as he or she is a parent themself and this film isn't exactly sparing towards 'young Georgie' but I find films like Adrift to be sicker than Funny Games.
I will admit, I found one sequence in the film silly yet brave and genius at the same time as few directors would try it for fear of looking silly. "What is the event?" You ask. Well, during the entire night, things go exactly the way the two planned, except for one event. Due to this event taking place, the viewer is on the edge of their seat, awaiting the explosion from Paul's calm and mocking demeanor. But it doesn't come; he simply demands to know where the DVD remote is, presses the rewind button and makes everything so that the event never takes place. Again, seemingly silly but genius at the same time.
All throughout the film, George sr. is a coward and does little to protect his family. He doesn't even protest when his son is being exposed to pain. He simply tells his wife to do what the psychotic pair ask of her; not a word of protest. There is little he can do due to a smashed up leg, courtesy of Peter, so he pretty much sits and sobs. Tim Roth clearly did what he could to play his part but I found the character of George sr. underplayed and infuriatingly cowardish.
In sharp contrast, Naomi Watts played her character of Ann to perfection. She portrays the fear of dying herself, the horror of knowing she could lose her beloved son and husband and hysteria due to being tired of all the sick games she is forced to participate in. By the end of the film, all the viewer wants is for her to grab the weapons she has been endlessly taunted and tested with and for her to kill both men on the spot.
When the night of terror for the family finally ends, Peter and Paul simply move on, sailing the families boat out onto the lake. Paul looks up at Peter with a devilish grin and states "I'm getting kinda' hungry" with a mischievous giggle. They then approach a new large home, similar to the one they were previously at not ten minutes ago. The door is opened and Paul is invited inside. He enters with an evil smile and so everything repeats, showing the two to be non-stop and intent on playing with as many perfect families as possible.
Again, I cannot stress enough how much I enjoyed this film and would highly recommend it to anyone who is looking for a few thrills and chills. Although an eighteen, the film is also good for those who are squeamish and can be watched without a worry. A brilliant masterpiece that I watched twice in a row and would wish for others to watch too. I would recommend a rent before a buy if you are uncertain about the movie.
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