Funny Games (2007) Poster


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A collection of old tricks and new ones that don't work
Matthew Landis26 April 2012
Warning: Spoilers
Firstly let us say that the movie was well made and the production value was never an issue. The plot does not offend any more than it tries to, and that this style of film making has a place in the consumer market, which should not alarm.

The pacing is well crafted. Yes, it is very slow, suffer-ably so which is the point. The viewer is almost forced to catch every detail. But this is nothing new. Films like High Tension (2003) amongst others use it to better effect.

The shocking nature of the film or rather the intended shock value was present but the actual depiction of violence is absent. Another technique that has been used many times and often better.

It is not that every movie should use or create new techniques as that is an impossibility, however if a film is to rely solely on these techniques it would be best to do so in a less predictable manner and executed with some craftsmanship.

Then there is the scene where the evil duo lose control of the situation only to have the main antagonist use a seemingly random television remote control to rewind real life there by defeating the hero and heroin upon a second attempt. This removes any hope this viewer may have had in the protagonists survival. It also removes the viewer from the moment. This occurs right when the viewer thinks an major plot shift might finally take place.

The "rewind" is never explained and only hinted at in a conversation between the two antagonists in disjointed conversation and adds nothing to the film.

If you, as a movie enthusiast, enjoy tension, oddity, and emotional suffering depicted in great detail then you may enjoy this movie.
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deeply disturbing art horror film but definitely not for everyone
Roland E. Zwick20 December 2008
Watching "Funny Games" is a bit like coming across a major accident on the highway - you know you should continue driving on past the scene, but you just can't keep yourself from slowing down and gawking at all the wreckage.

The premise of the story does not sound very promising at first, as the idea, or a simple variation of it, has served as the foundation for countless such films in the past: an innocent family of three is held hostage in their home by a couple of sadistic killers who systematically abuse and terrorize their victims for their own twisted pleasure.

So many horror movies are predictable and formulaic that it's a pleasant surprise to come across one that actually makes an effort to break free of its bonds and make its own way in the world. And, indeed, "Funny Games" busts through the horror movie conventions with an almost ruthless determination. In this Americanized version of a film he made in his native Austria in 1997, director Michael Haneke scrupulously avoids obvious camera setups and editing techniques, bypassing virtually every storytelling, visual or audio cliché endemic to the genre. There is no background music, for instance, to cue us into the scary moments, no screeching cats jumping out of the shadows, and no point-of-view shots designed to generate easy suspense. Unlike in most films of this type, the violence here happens in an entirely haphazard and random manner, making it all the more frightening in its unpredictability and plausibility. Haneke refuses to cater to the expectations of his audience, making them face the reality of the nightmare he's showing them rather than giving them what it is they may want to see.

Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet are cringe-worthy and terminally creepy as the smarmy psychopaths who get their jollies out of watching other people suffer, while Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Devon Gearhart engage our full sympathy as the hapless victims who have come up against the blank wall of two twisted minds they are woefully unequipped to even understand, let alone wage battle against.

This is one of the most memorable and artful horror films of recent times, but it is also one of the most unnerving and difficult to watch. The movie gets into your bones, no matter how much your better angels may be telling you to keep it out. It's depressing and disturbing and is certainly not intended for all audiences, but it is a movie that it is very difficult to shake off once you've given yourself over to it.
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You might hate it or love it but everyone should give this a chance
Bigbang2 April 2009
One way to get the most out of Funny Games is to have your expectations open before watching it. It's not a standard horror film aiming to fulfill your needs as a viewer. It's about horror films and us, the audience who gets pleasure from suffering as entertainment. It shows what real horror might look like in an awful situation, and how it psychologically debilitates and paralyzes the people involved.

Although this is almost identical and I liked this remake, I prefer the 1997 Austrian original version. It was one of the most disturbing and effective films I've ever seen. Here the acting is good especially from one of the best actresses out there Naomi Watts, but somehow the original works better. Maybe it was Arno Frisch, who played the main bad guy in the original, an absolutely ice cold character. Arno played it so well, there was a threatening menace underneath the polite and clean-cut exterior. Michael Pitt in this U.S. Version doesn't quite have that, but even so I still think he does well.

One possible flaw that I agree with others is the family seemed too passive. In the beginning the two bad guys are armed with only a golf club. Naomi Watt's, who is in amazing shape at 40, looked like she might have done something more to get out of it. However, an argument can be made that the family reacted realistically because they were portrayed as rich, docile people who listened to classical music and went boating. People who are not violent and erroneously think everyone, even these two sick guys, have a better nature they can appeal to by simply saying "why don't you just leave us alone and go?" They've been sheltered from people who are simply evil and lack empathy and just don't give a sh*t. Their comfortable existence has been shattered and they don't know how to react. We're so used to Hollywood b.s. where everyone is a hero and fights back and we all cheer and go home. Yeah that's entertaining too but we've seen that a million times already. Maybe some people would be paralyzed out of fear like this family. Either way, I was willing to put their passiveness aside because everything else in the film was done so well.

The original right now has a rating of 7.7 at IMDb and many glowing reviews, yet this U.S version is a lot lower at 6.4 and many b*tching and moaning 1 star reviews. Not to sound condescending, but maybe people who watch subtitled non-English films are more accepting of weird, offbeat films that don't follow conventional Hollywood style dialogue, plot and presentation, and they're more open to this movies style of direction, like the very long takes of people just sitting there in misery. I'm not stupid enough to say one has to like this film, I get annoyed at some indie type films and their quirkiness myself, but some of the 1 star reviewers sound like a bunch of crybabies.

Funny Games slaps you in the face and taunts you and it rarely gives in to what you need as a viewer, and that may be frustrating at times but at least it's something different.
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Reviewed after second viewing
bowmanblue20 December 2014
I first watched Funny Games (US) and enjoyed it (well, thought it was a film I'd like to watch again), so I bought it. However, half way through a second viewing, I decided I couldn't take any more and turned it off.

Some may say that's a sure sign that it's a bad movie. They may be right - even its star Tim Roth has since refused to watch it. The film is actually an American version (filmed shot for shot) of an Austrian 'home invasion' movie and is supposed to be about 'the nature of violence.' I didn't know this when I first watched it and just looked at it as a horrific film which was deliberately quirky.

It's about a family who get held hostage in their own (holiday) home by two nasty - yet annoyingly polite - young psychopaths. The first time I watched it I stuck with it and thought it was interesting/different enough to warrant a second viewing. I guess the reason I turned it off is because it was just too frustrating to watch. I practically wanted to jump into the TV armed with a chainsaw and... well, I won't give too much away.

If you don't know about the film, I won't spoil the 'weirder' bits. It's definitely not a horror film, as there isn't much blood and gore (what there is happens off screen). It's more an experience in frustration making statements about the audience's desire to witness blood and gore on the big screen. Now, some may say that's a bit pretentious and, if you feel this way, this film probably isn't for you.

If you want to watch this - be prepared for the least 'feel good' film ever made. It's not a horror and it's not a thriller. It's simply an exercise in watching. It's different enough to rise above a lot of its fellow genre films, but may not be everyone's cup of tea and is definitely hard to sit through.
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Peter Stawicki18 April 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Funny Games US is a motion picture study of two young psychopaths and the pain, suffering, and ends they inflict. In the end it gives just one line that justifies what actually took place and that line was unable to make me not feel like I had wasted 2 hours of my life.

The characters are cardboard. The length of the film is excessive. In the end you care about no one involved and you are left feeling the conclusion (though there really is none) is totally unsatisfactory.

The violence contained in the film is never shown though the effects of the violence and its remnants are displayed prominently.

My belief is that the director was trying to show how passé we now find violence and even goes an extra step to show bare sexuality (there is no nudity in the movie) against the back drop of the violence to allow the audience to judge their own "arousal factors" and how close they are to violence.

But no matter what the directors intention, the product was without merit. I would recommend not watching the film. Not even when suffering from extreme sleeplessness in hopes that this might lull you into a restful slumber - trust me it won't.

Tim Roth is wasted with very little dialog. Naomi Watts is wasted though she is able to show a great deal of emotion and is used for her looks as an arousal tool. And the best showing was the actor who played their son who showed a great deal of stage like visual emotion. Bravo.

I was being nice when I gave this two stars - Watch at your own peril and remember you'll never be able to reclaim the two hours of your life.
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Zero value here
NewFreedomRider30 October 2010
Warning: Spoilers
"Funny Games" follows the adventures of two politely psychopathic young men who prey on families in their vacation homes.

During the course of this film, a family of three is captured, bound and tortured in various ways; finally all are killed. The husband and 8 year boy old die by shotgun; the wife dies by drowning, tied and pushed from a sailboat into a lake.

The film veers between bizarre narrative interaction between the young murderers and the audience and the completely illogical behavior of the family. It's almost impossible to set aside your disbelief for this scenario.

The main thrust is to reiterate again and again that human beings are either mindlessly psychotic animals, or stupid dolts begging for destruction; and to do this in a "art school" way that makes the movie largely unwatchable.

With that being said, this movie is not recommended for anyone. It is a sick film which is far, far worse for the human psyche than any XXX pornography. "Funny Games" is simply the twisted expression of an irresponsible filmmaker. The movie is without any positive features whatsoever.

Self-indulgent junk.
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Why bad reviews for this movie can't win
acutezza23 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
One of the hardest parts about reviewing an 'art house' type movie is inherent in the genre's name: it's a lot like criticizing art. And if you've ever tried to criticize modern art, or almost any art, you're probably familiar with some brutal rebuttals and denials. The same is true for these 'art house' type movies. It's a lot easier to give the movie a good review and go, but bad reviews draw a lot more fire. This is harder for me as well, because I typically love these types of movies.

But I did not enjoy this movie--and I don't mean in the general 'it didn't make me happy' sense. I mean it in the 'had little value, emotionally or artistically' sense. Depending on how you're looking at it, there were many ways in which the movie could have gained merit--you could look at the performance of the actors, the entertainment of the plot itself, the tension or suspense, the message or theme. It tried very hard, but I don't think that it was able to live up to any of its expectations.

The most important aspect of this film when judging it is meant to be unconventional. It breaks film-making conventions and denies the audience's expectations over and over. For example, it breaks the fourth wall quite a few times--meant to be a punch in the gut for the audience as they are acknowledged as participants in the film. It denies the audience's expectation of gore by making almost all the violence occur off-screen, leaving only sound effects. Although the movie fulfills its aims in its unconventionality, what we are left with when all the conventions are broken is only the shell of a great movie. The over-the-top experience is gut-wrenching and terrifying, but that is the only real effect you are left with. The movie sucks one in by being unconventional, but the movie made a mistake in that it aimed to be unconventional without having a clear idea of what to do after convention was broken. The movie just seems to wander around, dragging a great premise through the dirt.

Another criticism of the movie comes from the intentions of the movie's plot. This movie--and its director, based on his real-life comments on his purpose in remaking a film shot-for-shot--is, in a word, pretentious. Haneke himself states that "It is a reaction to a certain American Cinema, its violence, its naïveté, the way it toys with human beings" (The Village Voice). Already there lies pretentiousness in the idea of remaking your own movie only ten years after the original, with practically the only change being the language. Already you're assuming that Americans will actually watch your movie just because it's in English, and on top of that, you're assuming that the bourgeois depiction of the 'victims' would be more fitting in American theaters. Then, you're saying that the violence message is more fitting in American theaters. I'll go ahead and dissect why all this pretentiousness bears no redeeming fruit.

First point: American cinema is more focused on and condoning of violence than other countries' cinema. This point is already rendered practically untestable by the fact that there is no movie industry in the world that is quite comparable to Hollywood. Most industries are much smaller, and even the most comparable industry in terms of size (Bollywood) is not a fair comparison due to drastically different genre and stylistic focus. The established industry of film in America has the negative side effects of allowing low-quality and low-standards movies to be produced and distributed on a massive scale, as long as it provides a hook to entice consumers. The amount of violence in Hollywood is highly overemphasized, and is inevitable in the industry due to its inevitable hook. Also, these movies do fairly well in other countries (in terms of box office), suggesting that it's not strictly an American issue.

Second point: The bourgeois characteristic of the characters is more appropriate in American theaters. Although there are plenty of yuppies, brownnosers, and bourgeois in America, I think it's unfair to say the bourgeois appearances of the characters are more of an American feature than German, or French, or English, whatever developed country you like. It's a common human attribute, a longing to move up in life, and enjoying a higher standard of living--not something I agree with, but everyone's seen it in action. Both this point, and the previous one, simply show a narrow-minded judgment on the part of the director.

And the most, MOST important point to why this film did nothing for me: The film delivers a message about violence, especially in regards to middle/upper-class culture. This movie said nothing of importance to me. If you want to find a message like this, look at Clockwork Orange. There is no denying that Clockwork Orange effectively conveys a message about violence and morality in the modern world. This movie was looking and looking to make a point about violence, something about how watching violence and indulging in violent movies is akin to the violence itself. It got halfway there in that it drew the audience into the experience and almost created a sense of guilt. But it was unable to go much further. It did not even justify a nihilistic view, because the way in which the movie was made, especially the semi-surrealism of the actual events and the 'rewind' feature, at least reveals intent in creating a point. It circles round and round and ends up no where at all.

I would call this movie avant-garde if it actually made any impact on me. A film can seek to chase beauty, tell a story, delight viewers, convey a message, play on a theme, or invoke an emotion, but when a film does none of these it loses its value as a piece of art. And this is exactly where Funny Games ends up.
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The worst movie I have ever seen.
Chicks17 July 2010
Warning: Spoilers
This review is long, so just let me start with saying this: If you want to see a good movie of a similar nature, I mean, taken hostage in a house/terrorized by crazy people movie, try 'The Strangers', or 'Them'. Both are along the same lines and are actually decent and worth watching.

In all seriousness, this movie was terrible. Out of the hundreds of films I've watched over the years, this is definitely the worst one. No jokes. I watched it on a recommendation, and I truly regret it. It was beyond boring. To begin with, there was absolutely no character depth. Character depth isn't always necessary, but there's normally something more to compensate that, but in this film I couldn't have cared less if that family survived this ordeal or not. It all started to fail in a scene quite near the start at the dock, where Ann didn't attempt to ask for help from her neighbors who were possibly the last people she would see again, how she just completely failed to mention that the man standing next to her was a raving lunatic who had just broken her husband's leg with a golf club and killed her dog with aforementioned golf club. Instead she just said 'Maybe we'll come by later'. Maybe?! Not 'My phone's on the fritz and my husband could use an ambulance' if she wanted to be subtle. I began to despise the sheer idiocy of this woman. It doesn't stop here, but I won't make this review longer than it needs to be.

I constantly analyze scenes like this, the 'What would I do?' automatic thought, which I know everybody does (if not most people), but for me too many of these moments can make the movie good or bad. Unintelligent decisions like this are what make most movies unrealistic. I lose empathy for characters that make stupid decisions that will ultimately contribute to their demise. I have read other reviews on this movie, and I understand that the movie wasn't intended to be realistic in some senses, one of the killers rewound the movie at one point, which is fine with me, I enjoy surrealism and bizarre stuff, but it seemed like the family were scared for their lives, or scared of the situation but really didn't care about the outcome and had no desire to try to alter it. Had they no survival instincts? No parental instincts for the safety of their son? It's as if these people weren't real people in a sense. All they did was cry about it. If I knew my life was at stake, a fight to the death would commence, and I'm positive that for almost everyone they would at least make some kind of effort to survive.

Tim Roth's character wouldn't be missed if he wasn't there. He had about 10 lines at most, and he just irritated me because he was such a blatant coward from the very beginning. What kind of man slaps another man? Seriously? Roughly drag him towards the door and shove him out, yeah. Fisticuffs, even would have been fantastic. Make some kind of vague attempt to retaliate when you notice that you're about to be hit with a golf club. This isn't how men react to conflict and threats to their lives. Nobody becomes that passive when having their life threatened.

No land line phones? Come on. It's strange enough that the family didn't have one, but the neighbors didn't either? And only one cell phone for the whole family! These people were mentally challenged, if nothing else.

I haven't mentioned everything I hate about this film, of course, because I'd be here for hours.

I could have let some of these things go, but I can't forget about them all. All these little things that irritated me throughout the film just built up and made me despise it.

It's not that I can't deal with art house or surrealist cinema, it's not that I can't deal with anything out of the ordinary, it's that I can't deal with watching idiotic characters with no will to live make awful decisions and cry on my TV screen for almost two hours. I can appreciate and enjoy things that don't make sense, because things don't have to make sense to be enjoyed, but really, this one had all the flaws of a cheesy low budget horror movie, but none of the charm.
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"You shouldn't forget the importance of entertainment."
phantomtristan17 March 2008
Warning: Spoilers
Ann: "Why don't you just kill us?" Peter: "You shouldn't forget the importance of entertainment." These two lines are the very base for the message behind Funny Games, a stark, unrelenting look at America's infatuation with violence and torture.

This is an English version remake of the 1997 German Funny Games, by the very same director Michael Haneke. Haneke wanted his original film to reach a broader audience, especially America since his inspiration for the film was his fascination with America's desensitized appetite for gore and violent torture. The premise is very simple: a well-to-do American family, George (Tim Roth), Ann (Naomi Watts), and Georgie (Devon Gearhart), arrive at their summer home for a relaxing vacation and are held hostage in their own home by two deranged young men, Paul (Michael Pitt) and Peter (Brady Corbet), who play a "game" with the family that consists of tormenting the family physically and psychologically.

Normally I would never have seen this film, as I have vowed never to see any type of slasher/torture-porn. However after reading about the director's vision of trying to show the audience how sickening the watching of graphic torture for entertainment really is, I knew I had to see it.

Unlike the hypocritical Untraceable or The Condemned, this film does exactly what it intends to do. This film gets in your head by giving the pretense that you will witness all the horrible acts, and then turns around on you by not showing anything! Everything is off-screen so you are left with only the sound effects. It is more disturbing as your imagination sets to work on the images off screen, and that in itself is more horrifying.

Haneke crafts a superbly intelligent psychological horror, but almost too intelligent as it almost falters on expecting you to know the philosophy behind the film-making and for someone knowing nothing about the film it might be confusing or frustrating.

I would not recommend this film to everyone as it will disappoint the Saw/Hostel audience and may confuse newcomers. With that aside, I greatly welcomed the dissection of violence, and someone who understands the point of the film and enjoys art house-style film-making will appreciate it.
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Sick - Sick Director - Sick Lovers Of This Debasement of Life
radiotesla200127 September 2009
Warning: Spoilers
I knew there was something seriously wrong with this film after about 5 minutes of the home invasion. I knew that I was rooting for the family to crush the excrement that the antagonists were. I also suspected that my wish was not going to be satisfied. I turned off the movie well before the first of the family members were murdered, and found my answers here. I will never watch another second of this movie again.

I 'get' the point. I simply do not agree with it.

Instead of wishing the family to survive, I wish for the director to painlessly drool himself into a coma. It is what he deserves. He is not 'teaching' us anything.

The movie is sick.

The lovers of this movie are sick.

Avoid it at all costs. You have been warned. 0 out of 10. Negative numbers should be allowed to be applied to filth such as this film.
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