We all love violence. We glorifying violence. Probably, “glorifying” isn’t the right word. Precisely, we romanticized violence. Everything about violence in media is awesome. The reason why you like violence is that they are just fiction. You can’t do or have never seen in reality. It might also be a weak statement and contradiction. Clearly, who exactly doesn’t like violence in media including movies? However, what about a film of violence in which the director has the intention from the beginning to the end? Here comes one of the most disturbing movies, Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games”.
“Funny Games” isn’t about funny games or even it’s not a horror, thriller, or psychological movie. Indeed, if seen from anywhere, this is a psychological thriller. Even if you want to call this a horror movie, it’s not wrong. However, this is very different from horror films as well as psychology and violence in general. The uniqueness of this film lies in the strangeness, difference, and intention of the director. He was trying to criticize in real how violence reflected in the media. We, as an audience too, come into play as the main characters. In the movie, the entertainer only intends to try to cheer us up. So from that, “Funny Games” is the title.
A wealthy German family goes on holiday to their lake house in Austria. The father, Georg (Ulrich Muhe), the mother, Anna (Susanne Lothar), and the son, Georgie (Stefan Clapczynski) go on holiday. Likewise with their dog. Arriving at their lake house, they passed their neighbor’s house. The neighbor, with two young men behind them, Peter (Frank Giering) and Paul (Arno Frisch), acquainted with the family. Even this family then passed away and finally arrived at their lake house.
Who would have thought if the two young men suddenly came to Anna at her lake house? He said that the neighbor sent them both to ask for eggs because they had run out of eggs. Anna immediately gave him four eggs but “accidentally” broke them. Inadvertently, one of them dropped the mobile phone into the sink until it entered the water. Who would have thought that the two of them had planned everything early before this family came? And they will never know how their vacation is full of fun games.
You don’t need to be anything scary if you want to make a horror movie. All you need is an approach. This approach is the key to whether a film is creepy, disturbing, terrifying, or others. “Funny Games” is a disturbing movie. Indeed, Haneke’s trademark always “shows” scenes of violence off-screen. But, it’s just his trademark that makes the films easy to notice by the audience. And it also seems like it’s the first time I’ve watched a film from a director; considering he directed a lot of great movies, I didn’t know this is the first movie.
“Funny Games” is a simple movie. Two psychopaths only seek an indication and undermine one’s privacy. But, the psychopath in this film doesn’t have any motivation. We, as an audience, saw two psychopaths torturing this family by having them play a game. Either a game of undressing, wearing a pillowcase on the head, or praying to God that they are safe. Those are fun games. And actually, we never know what the motives of these two psychopaths are. Why? What? And how?
The theme of the movie is a meta, a meta-horror movie that breaks the fourth wall. The two psychopaths, especially Paul, always ask the audience by facing the camera directly. He granted our “request” by asking whether this film should end happily. He asked whether we should need character development or whether this film must end tragically. Proverbial, they are a stand-up comedian or a circus who tries to entertain us. That’s the point of the movie. In most films with the theme of violence or psychopath, we understand why they do it in the first place. But not for this movie.
You can take examples like our own, enjoying movies with the name violence or psychopath. We feel fascinated and eating popcorn or snacks at the cinema. We enjoy that because it’s just a movie and fiction. There is a line between what is real and what is not real. But, “Funny Games” is a satire to us where we can’t do anything. We hope that the family survives and gets a pay-off on the psychopath’s behavior. But, one of the sequences too, where Paul controls the whole movie, likens that this is just a fun spectacle. And when the victim dies, we don’t feel anything. And even more strangely, why did I smile on-screen while looking at the smiling face of Arno Frisch. I don’t know what I was thinking.
What makes “Funny Games” work well is the content, the emotional, and the effect. From the beginning, I had felt an oddity why Paul suddenly winked in the first time to the audience. It’s jarring and terrifying. This movie, besides its effects and others, is a criticism of violence in movies. Call it Hollywood. We are familiar with everything related to violence when talking about cinema. And people and I also love those things. At the end of the movie, you just realize that there is a connection from beginning to end. It’s a loop, it will happen continuously, and both psychopaths are free to always look for more victims.
Did Haneke succeed in delivering her message about violence? Maybe yes and maybe not. Completely, I just think that this film tries to include the audience as the third psychopath. But, it’s a cinema and thousands of interpretations are still not enough. The actors’ performance as well is great, terrifying, and emotional both from the psychopaths and the victims. “Funny Games” is a criticism of films with the theme of violence. The film works very well in terms of thriller and horror.
4 out of 5 stars.