Friday, 28 October 2011

Movie review - Funny Games US

Funny Games address's the rules of the torturer and the victim similarly to Scream. “A stylish, darkly satirical horror-thriller, raising serious questions about Hollywood’s sanitisation of violence.” (Wise, 2008) In the film, the characters Peter and Paul play a lot of mind games with the Farber family, which conveys to the audience that they have done this before and know how the situation should be played out. The cast in Scream also have a clear view of the rules of the victim and the stalker/ torture stereotypes. Funny Games addresses the 'torture porn' theme in a darker light because the tone becomes uncomfortable when Peter and Paul start killing off the family and looks as if the torturers are going to win. It emphasises the dark and the awkwardness that most horror films try to mask from the innocent audience.

Figure 1, (2007), The arrival of Peter and Paul, everything seems normal

The characters of Peter and Paul are perfectly portrayed in this film as the nice friendly neighbours to the sick and twisted villains of the story. "Haneke's own film making doesn't miss a beat. If you saw the original, the elements of surprise may be missed but dread and suspense and nastiness are translated perfectly." (Rigg, 2008) Paul and Peter in the film are typical characters the audience love to hate because they play the torture porn roles successfully convincing the viewer that they have pulled their stunt off many times before and are therefore believable when they show their true nature. Their nastiness is realistic enough that the audience are praying that somehow the Farbers overcome them and regain the power lost when the torturers enter the house. However the director rewrites the classic rules of the victims triumph with the scene where Paul rewinds that point of Anna grabbing the gun and shoots Peter, this robs the audience of the outcome that wanted to see and puts the situation in Peter and Paul's favour. The director has deliberately written it this way to make the audience feel a certain horrific way towards the film.

 Figure 2, (2008), Paul torturing Georgie

Another trick the director puts into the film is his choice to stage Paul to look at the camera at crucial points where the torturing almost becomes unbearable. "Haneke's minimal plot explains almost nothing about the family that we can't glean from their possessions and nothing about the sadists who toy with them except that this is neither the first time they've done this nor will it be the last. But as the situation escalates, the torturers occasionally address us, the audience, chastising us for any pleasure we might derive from the proceedings and provoking the question of why we remain in the theater." (Davis, 2008) This technique of stage direction envolves the audience into the story so that they are no longer just simply observing and it creates a level of interaction that the viewer recognises what will happen next the moment he looks up at the camera. The strongest evidence of this, is the moment Paul strolls up to Farber's friends home and uses the excuse of 'wanting the eggs' again. He puts on that fake nice person routine but the moment the friend exits the shot Paul looks at the audience again with the sinister glare and the viewer instantly knows that the whole game is about to be placed with this new victim and the torturers will get away with it. The film feels theatrical interms of shot direction and the inclusion of the audience indicates that we are right there in the twisted film and are not allowed any comfort from what they are witnessing.

Figure 3, (2009), Paul looks at screen in end scene

Figure 1, (2007), The arrival of  Peter and Paul, everything seems normal, @, Accessed on: 2007
 Figure 2, (2008), Paul torturing Georgie, @, Accessed on:  9th October 2008
  Figure 3, (2009), Paul looks at screen in end scene, @, Accessed on:  2009


Davis Robert, (2008), Paste Magazine – Funny Games US, @, Accessed on: 9th June 2008
Rigg Julie, (2008), Movie time – Funny Games US, @, Accessed on: 11th September 2008
Wise Damon, (2008), Empire – Funny Games, @, Accessed on: 6th April 2006

3 ½ /5


  1. Hey Adam, a comparison between Scream and Funny Games US might be a great basis for your Postmodernism essay...

  2. The Possiblities are endless ... Hmmm im not sure now between this suggestion and Mulholland Drive you suggested a couple of weeks ago I need a serious think about this one