It’s that time again, time for tricks and treats, time for all things scary. Each week here on CultureSmash we will be featuring a new selection for your weekend viewing pleasure to help you get in the holiday….spirit! Some horror movies are cotton candy roller coaster rides full of silly dialogue and jump scares while others can be deeper and more disturbing. The world of the horror movie is vast and full of more variants than non-fans might think. So we’ll be avoiding those classics, the must views such as Friday the 13th, Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, A Nightmare on Elm Street, and Halloween (originals only please) and instead trying to bring you some options you may not have seen before.
Easily one of the most scary setups in film is the home invasion, the theme is still being experimented with via such films as The Strangers and the more recent You’re Next. There is of course the classic When a stranger Calls that’s a good ol’ stand by too. Our pick is easily the most twisted, and the most disturbing of them all.
Funny Games 1997
Directed by Michael Haneke
Starring Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Muhe
Michael Haneke crafts some of the most controversial films in global cinema today. His films aren’t just edginess for the sake of edginess though. His films, for better or for worse, always have something to say. Whether it’s political, social, or some combination of the two, his films attempt to have an opinion. Funny Games has its crosshairs focused on media and its effect on youth. I don’t agree with everything Haneke says in the film, but being a fan of George Romero’s iconic zombie films such as Dawn of the Dead and The Crazies, I still appreciate the sort of grounding of the characters within the commentary. If it’s a blood spattered TV or a character literally speaking to the audience through the lens, Haneke’s message is clear. The base of the film is two elitist young men in their early 20’s take a family hostage in their own home. There’s tons of brutality and humiliation but it starts with psychological manipulations and between beatings, the smarter leader of the kidnappers inserts his impressions of the world and of this innocent family and uses those impressions to brutalize them. While the few brief times the main kidnapper steps out of the story to look into the screen to communicate with the audience do break the story, they also successfully uncomfortably pull us into the duo’s shenanigans. Funny Games is as aggressive as they come but at the same time the pacing is precisely slow. There’s one scene in particular that feels like it goes for a painful eternity when in reality it only holds for several minutes. Those several minutes do make the scene longer than any American filmmaker would have the guts to hold the shot. Haneke eventually remade his own film under the same title in the United States featuring Naomi Watts, Tim Roth, and Michael Pitt and it’s a really solid remake, but the original German language version is the one to see.