Modern Cinema From Around the World: A Review of Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games”


funny games

*Spoilers ahead* 

Michael Haneke’s Austrian psychological thriller Funny Games (1997) begins with a family driving towards their vacation home. When they draw nearer to their destination, they stop by the neighbor Fred’s house to greet him before their apparent golf game scheduled for the next day with him. The family, after their talk with the neighbor, are unaware of the gravity of the situation, but still question some of the odd details of the scene in passing— the neighbor’s daughter is not there, and the two strange men accompany Fred. When they make it to the lake house, the father and son begin working on the boat while the mother prepares a meal in the kitchen. Peter, one of the two men who were previously with Fred, comes to the kitchen and asks Anna (the mother) for some eggs. Slowly the family becomes trapped in some not-so-funny games, which almost implicates the audience while we witness torture and torment. These ‘games’ are brought about by the sick and twisted humor of two young men, one of which (Paul) has total control of the situation. Peter (Frank Giering) and Paul (Arno Frisch)— or, as they like to say, “Beavis and Butthead” (which could be a comment on the desensitization of violence in media because Beavis and Butthead was a controversial cartoon)— slowly take advantage of the family’s kindness, first on account of Peter’s “clumsiness,” which is mildly annoying and is the primary excuse for his being there (Peter needs some eggs for the neighbor’s wife). Peter’s clumsiness also submerges the house phone in the sink, ruining it and cutting off the family’s communication with the outside world.

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