F.I.L.M. of the Week (April 30, 2010)

30 04 2010

Opening today in theaters is the latest “A Nightmare on Elm Street” movie, which will surely provide the same old horror movie shenanigans.  But why settle?  You want to see a movie that can scare you in new and unexpected ways.  Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games” is a different kind of horror, and it proves to be absolutely terrifying.

In fact, terror might be a better word than horror to describe the movie.  It’s not heavily plotted, and it is driven by the sheer terror of the situation that an average family finds themselves in one day at the lake.  Out of nowhere, husband and wife George and Ann (Tim Roth and Naomi Watts) as well as their son Georgie are held captive inside their own vacation home by two sadistic young neighbors (Brady Corbet and Michael Pitt).  They play cruel games with the unsuspecting family and even wager that the three of them will not live past 9:00 AM the next day.  What unfolds is hardly funny as torture, violence, and manipulation make for a truly unforgettable evening.

In case you hadn’t figured it out, this is not a movie for the squeamish or faint at heart.  “Funny Games” is a movie designed to terrify you and make you very uncomfortable, and it succeeds in that regards.  The events that take place are like a worst nightmare for so many people, such as domestic terrorists violating the privacy of a home.

Haneke uses a very different style than the show-it-all shenanigans usually employed by American horror filmmakers.  He is much more restrained and particular about the way he portrays the terror, but it works because of the painful realism that he uses.  I won’t ruin the key quirk of his style, just keep a close eye out for oddities.

Nowadays, movies are quickly divided into “art film” and “mainstream film.”  The beautiful thing about “Funny Games” is that it dabbles in both.  It plays like an art film with its nihilism and deliberate pacing (including one ten-minute shot that will scare the living daylights out of you), but in the middle are drops of that ridiculous American horror that has given us six volumes of “Saw” and eight installments of “A Nightmare on Elm Street.”  If you can muster up the courage to sit through Haneke’s two hours of harrowing terror, you’ll find it refreshing to see a movie that can straddle the line between the two camps of film.


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10 responses

30 04 2010
Aiden R

This was one of those movies that I really didn’t like at first but couldn’t stop thinking about afterwards and eventually really grew to dig. Need to see it again, but that Haneke sure does know a thing or two about messing with his audience one a whole ‘nother level. Good stuff, good review and good poster.

30 04 2010
James D.

Have you seen the original?

30 04 2010
Marshall

No, but since it is a shot-by-shot remake, I consider them practically the same. I opted for the American version since it’s on HBO a lot and it has Naomi Watts.

And @Aiden, the poster is incredible. Reflecting both the terror and the art that the movie has to offer. And it has Naomi Watts.

1 05 2010
Frank Mengarelli

This is on my must see list. My only hesitation is that I really can’t stand Michael Pitt, and I read about the breaking of the forth wall which I’m not really to hip on that (although I did enjoy the forth wall break in “Death Proof”).

1 05 2010
Marshall

I love the breaking of the fourth wall, especially the way it was done here.

P.S. – Why the Michael Pitt hate? He’s good in this movie FYI…

2 05 2010
Frank Mengarelli

I couldn’t remember why, so I looked up his filmography and the reason (believe it or not) was on an episode of Law and Order; he did a horrible job acting.

This doesn’t deture me though, since I do need to see “Funny Games” and he’s rumored to portray Christopher Walken’s icon role as Frank White in a “King of New York” prequel. That is sexy.

Thanks for the write up on this – it’s gotten me to add it to the top of my queue.

2 05 2010
CMrok93

I loved this film so much, everything about it just worked. Yeah, there was that one part that pissed me off, but other than that, great filming. Wish more films were like this.

3 05 2010
mcarteratthemovies

I haven’t seen this, but the poster always intrigued me — so emotive and haunting. I’ll put this on my Netflix list.

10 05 2010
Frank Mengarelli

Okay, so I just finished it tonight. It’s very good – and you can certainly tell it’s not made by an American filmmaker. I actually watched both versions and they are nearly the same, right down to shot by shot.

It’s very European – reminds me much of Lars von Trier.

Thanks for the post Marshall – I enjoyed it.

11 05 2010
“Funny Games U.S.” – 2007. Dir. Michael Haneke « Pompous Film Snob

[…] to Marshall’s F.I.L.M. of the week, I set out to watch this film […]

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