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Funny Games U.S. (2008)

Shall we begin?

Directed by:

Michael Haneke

Rating: 6/10

Running Time: 111 minutes

US Certificate: R UK Certificate: 18

Imagine, if you will, that you love pumpkin pie (feel free to insert any yummy dessert). Now, say a pie maker gives you a pumpkin pie that they made themselves, and as you eat it, you start to think that wow, this is a pretty good pumpkin pie. Suddenly, the pie maker begins to chide you with taunts—“WHY do you enjoy THAT pie?” “What kind of depraved mind is drawn to the particular pie?” “What’s wrong with you?” I don’t know about you, but at that point, I think I’d put down my fork and walk away, no matter how tasty the pie. That is how I felt watching Michael Haneke’s remake of his own movie Funny Games, a pseudo-intellectual comment on the horror movie fan’s insatiable need for blood and a little bit of the ultra-violence that disguises itself as the very kind of thing it’s mocking. Believe me—I get it; I just didn’t want it.

Starts off, happy little family of mom Ann (Naomi Watts), dad George (Tim Roth), son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) and their dog Lucky are settling in for a quiet lakeside vacation. They’ve only just begun to unpack, however, when some creepily polite young men (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet) with menacing white gloves pop up at the door, presumably to borrow eggs. Soon, their much more sinister motives become clear, and the unsuspecting family is forced into a game of torture and survival.

How to review a film that seemed to hate me? I’ll start with being nice—the cast is excellent, especially Roth and Watts, both of whom definitely look like they’ve been broken down by the end of their ordeal. Also, though I’ve read some criticism that likens some of the film’s better uses of angle and setting to A Clockwork Orange (points that do have their merit), Haneke still makes good use of his camera, upping the suspense and terror by employing long, drawn out scenes that make an already on-edge audience hyper-aware of passing time and leaving the majority of violence off screen (an intriguing choice that’s actually one of the better contrivances used to get his point across). My issue with the whole she-bang though, is that, as a horror fan, I felt as if a condescending professor was looking down his nose at me the whole time. I don’t need smirking guys all dressed up in their pristine tennis best winking at me like some demented Ferris Bueller, shaking me senseless with their, “Do you get it?” morality. In fact, this U.S. version was made JUST BECAUSE Haneke assumed the people he wanted to “reach” with his thought-provoking wouldn’t have the attention span to read the subtitles on his Austrian original—thus, a shot-for-shot remake in English. It’s a shame, really, because had he not been so transparent in his soapbox-ing, Haneke would have had a top-notch thriller—but that was never what he wanted anyway.

It's Got: Great Tim Roth and Naomi Watts, scary white gloves, some intriguing ideas.

It Needs: To get over itself, to not be so obvious in its “message,” to not think fans of violent films have never questioned their taste in movies.


An exact replica (in English) of the original, this could’ve been a superior psychological thriller—and it STILL could’ve made its point—but instead, it comes off as patronizing and snobby.

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