Quick recap: Two psychotic men hold a wealthy family hostage and then torture them for several hours until they are all dead. In retrospect, watching this movie late at night wasn’t one of my smarter ideas but you live and learn, right? WRONG.
Fun (?) Fact: Director Michael Haneke has stated that ‘Funny Games’ was not meant to be a horror film, but instead a message about violence in media. Message received, thank you very much. I’m curling back into my ball now.
My thoughts: It’s not often that a movie makes me really reflect on my life choices and what has lead me to this point to have to sit through something as awful as ‘Funny Games’. Before I begin my (I predict) rambling observation, I’ll preface by saying that I have no qualms spoiling the movie because I believe in sharing misery.
From the moment Peter enters Anna’s house, a knot in my stomach grew. I had already read the synopsis of the film beforehand and I knew the ending but I think waiting for it to happen made it so much worse. I found myself relieved once it was revealed that Paul, the other psycho, had murdered the family dog. Not a normal thing to be relieved about, but I was grateful that I didn’t have to watch the death. That turned out to be the absolute worse thing because I don’t think I’ll ever get the image of the young boy crumpled up in the corner after being shot to death, his blood splattered everywhere. Somehow, not watching the murder but seeing the aftermath made the situation so much worse and more horrifying. Looking back, very little of the torture scenes were shown. Most of the horror came from discovering what evil thing would be next. An example of this was when the young boy, George, discovers that Peter and Paul have also murdered a family living next to his. No bodies are shown, but as George looks down a staircase, he can see a little girl’s sock covered foot.
I think it was at that scene that I really had to stop and question if i should continue watching the movie or not. I knew the young son would be murdered as well as the rest of the family eventually and I had already had enough suspense for one night. I made the decision to keep watching because I knew that if I didn’t, it might haunt me forever. I found myself hoping that the family would be murdered quickly so I wouldn’t have to sit through anymore sadistic games, and that brings me to another example of psychological torture for the audience: Paul talks directly to the audience watching the movie. In the beginning of the end, he bets the family that they won’t survive past 9 in the morning and then turns to the camera and says that he thinks we will be rooting for the family to survive. In another scene, Anna escapes right before she is about to be murdered and manages to shoot Peter. Paul screams and looks for the tv remote to rewind the scene and bring Peter back to life. It works and both men continue their games. Paul also turns around and winks at the camera a few times, like he is letting us in on a secret and after awhile, I felt personally involved. It wasn’t like I felt like I was committing the murders, but I somehow felt responsible for what was happening and yet helpless to do anything.
The movie ends with Peter and Paul throwing Anna into the water and I once again felt relief that it was finally over. But then they docked the boat and showed up at a neighbor’s house, presumably to continue their spree. Thankfully, the audience is set free and we don’t have to witness anything else.
Final Review: 1/5. The director supposedly said that if this movie was successful in any way, it was because the audience didn’t understand his message. Just in case Haneke is reading this blog, I’d like to let him know that I’d give this a negative score if I could.
Nightmares?: Oh,yes. It wasn’t the fear that someone would break into the house, but just nightmares about death in general and STILL being unable of getting that image of the dead boy out of my head.
Up Next: this movie broke me. I may need to watch something lighthearted and abandon HorrorFest for now. Way to go, Haneke. This is why we can’t have nice things.
I wrote the following on my now-retired blog last year, and I want to share it again…
My position has always been that well-made horror movies and violent thrillers can be healthy. Taken in moderation such films are cathartic, and allow you to experience your fears and anxieties in a safe way.
But after seeing a certain movie last night (the movie and the director shall remain unnamed) I came to the conclusion that enough is finally enough.
The next time you watch a film, ask yourself if the film says anything about the human condition, anything at all. And even if it does, the message should not be that we are all destined for damnation. First, it takes no skill, intelligence or wit to transmit that message. Second, art should provide us with a reason to live. It should incentivize us to embrace our strange existence, to appreciate the miraculous in the everyday.
I am not suggesting that grown adults tune into the Disney Channel 24/7. But better to watch The Godfather than Hostel.
That is only my two cents.
That is exactly true. I’ve never been a fan of the horror genre and even less so the ‘torture porn’ sub genre for precisely this reason. It teaches us nothing except to be afraid of evil people and death. I can’t call bs on the director’s message of violence in the media, but I think that it a moral we have heard a billion times already. And he knew this movie would be successful, despite all his pleas for the opposite. The world would’ve been just fine without ‘Funny Games’.
At the same time, though, I have learned that there is a place for horror, if it is done right (The shining, for example). The message shouldn’t be so clear cut and like you said, if the audience shouldn’t walk away without hope for the future.
Good horror always contains a sense of awe in the face of the uncanny. Kubrick’s Shining certainly does. It’s not a bad thing to sometimes feel like existence is frightening; the Devil is scary, but so is the concept of God.
BTW… for those times you really need a good brain-scrub, I recommend having a bunch of Jim Henson DVD’s on hand. All you have to do is pop in an episode of Fraggile Rock, or the film Labyrinth, and your bad thoughts will disappear like magic. Henson’s legacy is The Muppets… Haneke’s legacy will be this malefic claptrap. I would rather be totally forgotten than be remembered for a film like Funny Games.
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Finally I’ve found something which helped me. Kudos!
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