“We’re not up to feature film length yet”
Michael Haneke’s Funny Games is a movie I became aware of due to the excessive hyperbole surrounding it on its DVD release in the UK. After being promised a movie that was “sobering, nightmarish & terrifying” I rented the film as soon as it was released. I don’t think there are sufficient adjectives in the English language to describe my utter disappointment & anger at the film when I finished watching it. I can honestly say that if I was to compile a list of the worst movies ever made, Funny Games would make the top 3.
The plot of Funny Games is the story of a wealthy family visiting their Austrian lake house for the weekend. As they arrive they spot one of their neighbours with two young men who the neighbour introduces as friends of his son. Soon the two young men, Peter & Paul begin to impose themselves on the family. They harass Anna (the wife) over some eggs they wish to borrow, in the process breaking the phone. Once Anna asks her husband Georg to throw them out, the young men turn violent, Peter breaks Georg’s leg with a golf club & Paul kills the family’s dog. Georg, Anna & their son Georgie are taken hostage. The young men then explain they wish to play some games & see if the family can survive until 9am the next morning.
In my personal opinion one of the worst cinematic crimes a film director can commit is to insult the intelligence of his/her viewers. Funny Games does precisely this. The character of Paul is aware of being in a movie. He frequently breaks the fourth wall, asking questions of the audience & in one ridiculous scene, grabs a remote control & rewinds the movie to change events! Paul’s character is at complete odds with the rest of the cast, including Peter who play the movie out as a serious piece of drama. There is never any background or motivation given to the two young men. They are simply there doing what they do. Haneke has stated that he wanted to make a pointless movie about violence & the media. If that was his objective, he completely failed. Yet ironically he had the perfect beginning to make such a film. Watching the opening half an hour brought to mind the real life case of Leopold & Loeb, two young men who believing Friedrich Neitzsche’s theory of the superhuman murdered a 14yr old boy, just to see if they could commit the perfect crime. Had Haneke taken the movie in that direction it could have been a wonderfully powerful movie. Sadly Haneke chose poorly & we have the mess of a movie that Funny Games is. The cast do their best with what they have but even there, this movie falls flat on its face. The movie fails to illicit any menace to the characters of Peter & Paul. It seemed to me that even with a broken leg, Georg & Anna could have easily over powered the two young men pretty quickly & put an end to the farce. As it is Funny Games comes across as an over indulgent mess that is trying so hard to be something it clearly isn’t. Not content with torturing fans of foreign language horror films with this abysmal piece of crap, Haneke remade the movie shot for shot in the US with a cast that included Tim Roth & Naomi Watts. I can only assume they both got a huge payout to make such a dreadful movie.
Funny Games is a movie that can stand beside Colin, Goth & The Last Lovecraft as examples of the worst movies ever made. It truly is that bad. Funny Games has no redeeming features & is an insult to anyone with more than two brain cells. Avoid at all costs.