31 Favorites #3: Funny Games (1997)
Imagine going away to your vacation home on the lake for a holiday with your family. Imagine two clean cut young men knocking on your door asking to borrow eggs. Imagine those same two young men then assaulting your family, mercilessly. This is the gist of Funny Games.
You'll find a lot of dissent around this film amongst horror fans. Some, like me, think it's a brilliant examination of voyeurism and violence as entertainment. Others hate its "gotcha" nature and manipulative plot devices. However, no matter what side of the argument one stands, I think all would agree that this is not a feel good film.
Three Things I Love About It:
- I, for one, loved the manipulative nature of the film. It made me think. Hard. And it challenged me to consider why I watch horror films at all, and to consider the ways in which I differentiate between horror as entertainment and horror in the "real" world. These are all things that thinking horror fans have probably considered in the past, if not on our own then most likely when having to answer the many "Why do you like to watch that stuff?" questions we get from non-horror fans. But I've never seen a film address it so directly and so pointedly.
- The mundane quality of the entire situation is what makes this film utterly chilling. These young men look like friendly neighbors. They are nonchalant and indifferent in their attack. It's a totally plausible, and completely horrifying in its simplicity, situation.
- Michael Haneke, the film's director, really serves it up in this one. Make sure you see the original version of this film (released in 1997). And if you like Funny Games, Haneke has a number of other depressing films you can check out. Take your pick.