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27 out of 51 people found the following review useful:

relentless but rewarding

Author: jdquinn-1
9 June 2004

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

From the opening credits, "Funny Games" is already playing tricks on the audience: as the film's family/victims drive to their summer home, listening to classical music, Haneke splices freakout thrash metal over shots of their unsuspecting faces. But what truly impressed me about this film wasn't the slight gimmicks (of which there are plenty, some more successful than others) but the muted, unobtrusive style in which the film is shot. Extremely long takes (like the first egg scene, or the harrowing, sparse shot of the father sitting in his living room floor, howling for his dead son) combined with elegant cinematography and lighting ( I liked how quite subtly the family's first interrogation grew darker and darker, until Paul commented upon it and turned on the lamp) never makes the camera feel an aloof presence to a choreographed scene. That is, until Paul turns, and in a Goddardian aside, winks knowingly at the camera's eye. At which point the audience is instantly implicated in the vicious proceedings.

It seems here that most people get caught up in trying to explain the film's intentions. "Funny Games" isn't a film so much as a cinematic exercise in the spurious shock of violence on the silver screen. Gone are all the scapegoats of plot or genre conventions that would help make the audience feel vindicated or justified in watching, say, a man get shot because earlier he raped the film's protagonist, etc. But Haneke's film doesn't shock for the simple exploitative aspect either. When the mother is forced to strip before her torturers, the audience is kept just as blind to the proceedings as the young boy. Likewise, we don't witness the child's murder, but hear it off screen, as Paul is making himself something to eat. The films shock therefore comes not only from the brutal torture scenes but the intense apathy conveyed not only by the purposeless killers but the lack of cinematic conviction commonly combined with narrative violence, a point all the more reinforced with the film's final murder.

As Peter and Paul are sailing back into the harbor, Paul comments how seeing violence in a film is no different than witnessing it in real life. The violence portrayed in "Funny Games" is so unnerving not because of any excessive display of exploitative gore, but for the exact opposite: the banal regularity of which such atrocities occur. "Funny Games" is anything but...but as is proven by the scores of reader responses, it's sure to provoke some reaction. Whether you think its fascinating or revolting, regardless it makes you think.

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4 out of 6 people found the following review useful:

No redeeming features

Author: chopendoz from Australia
12 January 2012

*** This review may contain spoilers ***


It is difficult to review this movie without spoilers, given the nature of the plot ....

The basic story is that of a subtle form of home invasion, but without a happy ending - and this seems to be the reason why some fans seem to regard the movie as 'art'. The actors did a fine job and the production values were quite good but the content left a lot to be desired. It is certainly not a movie for the faint of heart. A couple, with their young son, arrive at a remote location for a vacation. They encounter a pair of young men who slowly infiltrate their little world and, with menace, first disable the husband (by breaking his leg) and thereafter threaten the child in order to coerce the parents into 'performing' for the two young men who take perverse pleasure in their dominance. It does not end well. And that is the departure from the normal happy ending where the good guys win and the bad guys get their desserts. This is, apparently, the major selling point but I have a sneaking feeling that some 'fans' will seek this movie out for their own perverse pleasure. I realize that there are people who like horror movies for the adrenalin 'rush' and others who are turned on by violence but I am not one of them. I like to watch movies for entertainment but viewed this with some distaste. I was not entertained. True it was tense and menacing - but not thrilling - and devoid of any redeeming features. I would recommend this movie to clinical psychologists as a test screening for mental patients to see their reaction. It may help them to understand the motivation of serial killers and/or psychopaths.

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5 out of 8 people found the following review useful:

cruel and pointless

Author: dutchthea from Netherlands
17 April 2009

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

A well to do family is spending time at their holiday-home near a lake. One day 2 young fellows arrive to borrow some eggs. Thing is, they don't leave. They take mother, father and son hostage. Slowly things go from bad to worse. I don't mind a good thriller. But after I finished watching this one I was genuinely upset. A waste of time yes. But I also felt anger at the message of the movie. At that clever little twist when for a moment it seems the kidnappers will lose after all...and most of all the ending upset me. I can't imagine someone actually liking this movie. Me? I'd rather have all my teeth pulled without painkillers than ever watch this movie again.

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16 out of 30 people found the following review useful:


Author: ultras75 from Rome, Italy
7 June 1999

Yeah,I see the point of the director who tried to create the most frightening,chilling atmosphere ever made.But the film totally lacks of any plot,being only mindless violence.Beside,acting is terrible throughout the whole movie,and it only deepens the sense of boredom.One of the worst film ever seen:1,and I feel kind enough not to spend other bad words.

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32 out of 62 people found the following review useful:

Disturbing and uncomfortable, but a masterpiece!

Author: tankjonah from Australia
25 February 2006

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

Michael Haneke's film Funny Games is far from an enjoyable movie as the family are tortured and humiliated in a frighteningly realistic manner. However, as an exploration of cinema violence, subversion of the conventions of the thriller/horror genre and the role of audience as voyeurs complicit in the actions on screen, this is a masterpiece. Almost all of the violence and humiliation inflicted on the family is off screen, the agonizing cries of the victims are horrible enough.

The plot is simple. A wealthy family (Susanne Lothar as mother, Ulrich Muhe as father and Stefan Clapcynski as 8 year old son) arrive at their secluded holiday home. Soon after, a young man (Frank Giering), seemingly a friend of the neighbour, arrives asking to borrow some eggs. When he is soon joined by his friend (Arno Frisch, who played Benny in Haneke's earlier film) the two attack and terrorize the family.

Frisch and Giering treat the situation as a game with rules that should be followed. Hence, after Giering wrongly shoots Clapynski who should (according to the rules) have been left alive after being counted in, not out, the two men briefly leave. Refreshingly, it is Muhe who breaks down sobbing uncontrollably after his son's death and it is his wife who comforts him, rather than the reverse as the convention of the genre so often dictates. Throughout the film Haneke revisits his theme of the audience as voyeurs by having Frisch speak directly to the camera (i.e. at us). This may disconcert some, but it is here that the film identifies itself more as an essay on the thriller/horror genre and its conventions, than as violent spectacle for the masses to lap up. Indeed, the majority of the violence is off screen further subverting expectations of audiences desensitized to accepting periodic killings in many a Hollywood thriller. Frisch asks us what he should do in certain situations. He also asks us who we bet on to survive. We're all rooting for the family he tells us. Indeed, given the conventions of the genre we should expect them to survive.

The most unexpected, unusual, audacious and possibly groundbreaking moment in the film totally evidences the fictional construction of film, here explored in a different way to say, Bande a Part (Godard, 1965). Here, Lothar manages to snatch the rifle and blow Giering away. Frisch then confiscates the rifle, pushes her aside and then screams for the location of the remote. When he locates it, he rewinds what we have just seen, bringing Giering back to life and preceding to thwart Lothar's effort. This scene may be interpreted in several ways. For the briefest of moments the audience is given what they want to see - the convention of the genre is fulfilled - before Haneke audaciously and cruelly says sorry, screw you and your expectations of the genre. That the film had effectively been thwarting audience expectation throughout, can be evidenced by the fact that when I saw the film various audience members cheered when Lothar killed Giering. Stunned silence and nervous laughter followed Frisch's action with the remote. The scene may also be interpreted as titillation (indeed it is the most explicitly violent moment in the film) which erodes the film's point about violence in film being used as gratuitous entertainment (a view I don't espouse). Finally the scene may also be read as a further point about thwarting expectations that we've all acquired by watching thrillers. Haneke's interest in subverting convention can also be seen via the relationship depicted between the two killers. Frisch often refers to Giering as "Fatty" much to the latter's annoyance. This is another means to cue audience expectation. So often, as in Scream (Craven, 1996) for instance, killers working together can become their own worst enemies, ultimately leading to their downfall. Here Giering's displeasure doesn't lead to the two turning on each other, further subverting the expectations and hopes of an audience accustomed to 'the wicked being punished.' Indeed, Haneke refuses to give the audience any simple reason for the behaviour of the killers. Unlike, the multitude of Hollywood thrillers where the killer is revealed to have a history grounded in psychological or sociological disturbance, drug abuse or poverty, Frisch and Giering's characters clearly do not fit into such simple and naïve categorisations. Indeed, throughout Funny Games both killers are referred to as Beavis, Butthead, John, Paul etc, presumably to present them as diverse and non-classifiable. Both are articulate and polite, neither is looking for their next fix and neither are poverty stricken. Rather than depicting the killers as the 'other' Haneke presents them as white, middle class, well dressed and intelligent. The only recent Hollywood film that springs to mind which draws such a complex and disturbing killer is Se7en (Fincher, 1995). Ironically, the denouement in that film dared to subvert expectations and yet (its predictability not withstanding) is considered by some critics to be a weakness.

The performances in Funny Games are excellent; Lothar and Muhe particularly stand out. Haneke has created a brilliant, audacious film which is a must see for any serious film buff interested in a commentary on film violence and its effects. The film will invariably stimulate discussion and/or argument amongst its viewers.

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45 out of 88 people found the following review useful:

Gut-wrenching horror

Author: Renaldo Matlin from Oslo, Norway
14 March 2002

As opposed to Oliver Stone's speculative box office hit NATURAL BORN KILLERS, that actually made us laugh and thus destroyed the whole threat of violence, Michael Haneke's FUNNY GAMES turns the art of cinema into a loaded gun. The movie hits you below the waist time after time, until you feel as helpless and molested as the characters on-screen. And thus Haneke's point that "violence is bad" is made terribly clear.

Not an easy task, but Haneke pulled it off like there was no tomorrow, and for that he deserves our praise in a time when violence is synonymous with entertainment.

See FUNNY GAMES - if you dare!

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59 out of 116 people found the following review useful:


Author: Danny_G13 from Glasgow, Scotland
18 January 2007

Psychological horror masterpiece presses all the right buttons to disturb at an epidermal level.

On the surface of this movie, the mere plot about two psychopaths terrorising a family doesn't seem to be particularly interesting, or critically, original either. Indeed, the fact that the entire story takes place in pretty much one place would suggest it might struggle to capture the viewer's attention, certainly for its duration.

However, the simple combination of the mechanics of the performances, the script and the general tension make this story work outstandingly well; indeed, its isolated feel simply adds to the overall claustrophobia.

Peter and Paul are two apparently genial young men, who show up at the isolated boathouse of Anna and Georg, a mature couple with a child, who are all taking a couple of weeks holiday.

When Peter seems to be making a nuisance of himself, Anna starts to lose her patience with him. Paul then arrives on the scene and before long it has converted from an underbelly of irritation to outright intimidation, followed by crude violence.

It is extremely hard to sum this movie up without making it sound like a highly unoriginal piece of cinema, but there can be no question it is anything but.

The script is simply incredible; the overtone of terror slowly creeps up on the viewer, and on Anna and Georg, with more than a dose of psychological manipulation. Almost by pretending they are doing nothing wrong, with more than a hint of cordiality along the way, the two perpetrators manage to inflict a disturbing level of fear upon the family, and yet it is the most subtle form of assault.

Rather than constant threats, the two act like dinner guests who just happen to be terrifying the heck out of their hosts.

When things go further, and violence joins in, it takes the trauma to a new level, as it is gritty horror rather than a splatterfest. These are two psychos who take intimidation, violence, and all round fear to a thoroughly psychological pane.

The movie is also laced with some deliciously dark humour, with a few addresses to camera by Paul, who steps out of the character and joins the viewer on occasion. Absolutely marvellous.

However, it cannot be forgotten that the performances all round are simply outstanding. Each actor plays their part to perfection, and hats off to all - the victims were especially convincingly terrified, and the perpetrators frighteningly cool.

Haneke, the director, delivered a masterpiece with this. It's not conventional, doesn't end traditionally, and makes superb use of direction to construct an honestly masterful affair.

Highly recommended, but it should be noted it's not for everyone.

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Two young men force a family to play sadistic "games" with one another for their own entertainment

Author: ma-cortes from Santander Spain
30 June 2013

A family formed by father (Ulrich Muhe) , mother (Susanne Lothar) , son and their dog, arriving at their lake house and settle into its vacation home . There happens to be the next stop for a pair of psychopathic young , articulate, white-gloved serial killers on an excursion through the neighborhood . They take the family hostage in their cabin and all of them are physically and mentally submitted to coercion , torture , punches , kicks and many others things .

Violent as well as disturbing film about two psychotic young men take a mother , father, and son hostage in their vacation cabin and the family is forced to participate in a number of sadistic games in order to stay alive . This is a thought-provoking exploration of our violent society by means of two young delinquents and how depictions of violence reflect and shape our culture, a middle-class family submits violence, and death foisted upon them by two young , unexpected, white-gloved visitors at their vacation retreat near a lake. Violent film dealing with a familiar deconstruction in the way violence is portrayed in the media . Good acting from protagonist duo , Ulrich Muhe and Susanne Lothar , marriage in real life , and both of whom sadly deceased . Actress Isabelle Huppert was offered the lead role of Ann but turned it down as she thought both the film and the lead character's hardships were too disturbing to portray , she regretted the decision later after seeing it, but still admitted she probably wouldn't have the courage to do it . Director Michael Haneke has said that he never intended 'Funny Games' to be a horror film ; instead his idea was to make a film with a moralistic comment about the influence of media violence on society , it's a subject that Haneke is quite passionate about. When the film was screened at Cannes in 1997 it shocked the audience badly enough that many viewers, including some film critics, walked out of the screening. This ¨Funny Games¨ was remade in English-language adaptation (2007) , starred by American roles , as George Farber (Tim Roth), his wife Ann (Naomi Watts), his son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) and two violent young men, Peter (Brady Corbet) and Paul (Michael Pitt) .

The motion picture was well directed by Michael Hanake . Hanake is considered to be one of the best European filmmakers and Twice winner of the Palme d'Or at the Cannes Film Festival for The white ribbon (2009) and Amour (2012); as playwright he directed a number of stage productions in German . He has directed various brooding and engaging films ¨Cache¨ , ¨Time of the wolf¨ , ¨The piano teacher¨, ¨Unknown code¨ , ¨Benny's video¨, ¨The seventh continent¨ and ¨The castle¨ also starred by marriage Ulrich Muhe and Susanne Lothar .

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1 out of 1 people found the following review useful:

Chilling, disturbing but disingenuous

Author: ajcox67uk from London, SW8
30 July 2010

*** This review may contain spoilers ***

'Funny Games' is certainly not a pleasant film to watch. As the title implies, this film is about Michael Haneke playing games with the audience rather than simply telling a story and this artistic strategy is borne out in the interview added on to the latest DVD edition.

I don't want to give too much away, so I'll comment on the interview with the director. Haneke takes a rather mocking view of the audience by chastising viewers who would object to his film yet stay to watch the end of it; he implies they are perhaps sick for doing so. He also says that the scene where the female hostage shoots one of the torturers, caused many people at cinema screenings to clap with relief, only for them to fall into silence when the scene is rewound like a videotape and the woman is returned back to her terrible predicament. Haneke says that they were applauding murder by cheering the woman's actions. In essence they were not. Her actions were not an act of murder but of desperate self-defence, but, hey, this is only a film. However, Haneke seems to think that screen violence is the flip side of real violence. To the director the audience's reactions to the shooting are more than a reaction to a narrative, but a condonation of an act of 'murder', which it is not. The woman's actions can be judged as justifiable self-defence whether as part of a narrative or real life itself.

Haneke vainly congratulates himself for 'manipulating' the audience with this scene. However, this suggestion of manipulation is rather pompous of Haneke, as almost all films, in fact all forms of storytelling, manipulate the audience; it is part of the cathartic pleasure of watching a film and what makes cinema such a uniquely rich and rewarding experience, but this 'manipulation' ends the minute a film is over. We are perfectly capable of emotionally and intellectually distinguishing between a depiction of fictional violence and the real thing itself, and I think Haneke is mistaken to believe otherwise. This is a film everyone should watch or attempt to watch (it certainly isn't pleasant viewing), but I would take Haneke's thesis interlinking screen and real violence with a strong pinch of salt.

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2 out of 3 people found the following review useful:

Indulgent Games

Author: kenjha
15 October 2010

A couple of psychos terrorize a family at its remote vacation home. Frisch makes a scary villain, but the three actors playing the family are not very convincing, with the couple's nonchalant attitude towards their son particularly odd. Haneke is not so much interested in creating a thriller as in showcasing his indulgent brand of filmmaking. Here the German director has his villain break the "fourth wall" with asides to the audience. While such a device is fine for comedy, it is wholly inappropriate for a serious film. There's a scene where the screen is basically frozen for about ten minutes. And then there's a scene with the remote control that defies explanation. Pure indulgence.

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