A pair of young sociopaths take a young family hostage and force them to endure a series of torturous mind games for their own amusement.
Funny Games is basically torture porn’s answer to Rope, the two young conservative psychos are obviously intelligent and creepily polite in the same way as the Leopold and Loeb-alikes of that film. In fact Michael Haneke admirably uses the Hitchcockian device of making certain events happen off screen, sparing us the more gruesome violence and its knowing self-referential post-modernism can be used as the excuse that it’s “making a point” in a similar way to Natural Born Killers and Man Bites Dog. Allegedly. But the irony card is a very easy one to play and never escapes the fact that it relies on exactly the same format and devices of every other example of this kind of thing. Plus the use of post modern elements such as the villains speaking directly to camera and the ridiculous remote control scene just come across as smart alec rather than clever. The actors no doubt licked their chops at the prospect of the aftermath scenes, but to the audience it’s just lots of snivelling, limping and phone maintenance which seems to go on forever.
I’d heard a lot of good things about this film, but to me it’s just Scream for the Hostel generation and your enjoyment relies entirely on whether or not you get a vicarious thrill from watching other people get physically and psychologically abused. Which I do not.