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Funny Games


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Michael Haneke, the widely adored Austrian filmmaker, does a remake of his 1997 European film, this time set in America with an American cast.

The movie's poster reads, "You must admit you asked for this," and it's directed not at the generic stupidity of horror-movie protaganists, but at the audience itself.

The film is an assault, quite intentionally, and it forces the audience's complicity in the sadism and mayhem. At one point, one of the well-heeled young sociopaths even addresses the audience directly. So we're in on their brutal little "game." Some people no doubt would consider this sort of "it's-just-a-movie" postmodern exposition (which happens at least twice) to be pretentious, or crudely done, displaying utter contempt for naturalism and suspension of disbelief. Probably I"d be tempted to agree in most cases, but it works well in this movie; amazingly, it doesn't even remotely affect the almost unbearable suspense which is generated.

Not for the weak of heart, as it's a relentless exercise, exploiting the pleasure of watching a horror movie even as it condemns the violence-as-meaningless-candy prevalent in such inferior exercises in boring sadism such as the "Saw" franchise. And almost all the violence occurs offscreen...and yet it still feels like a punch in the gut.

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