CineTV Contest: Funny Games (1997)

From where does scare come from? Well, there is the fear of ghosts. we have all heard about stories when we were young and we have definitely got scared in the jungle or in the dark were scared to look under the staircase when the light was out. But those scares have happened in ignorance. We didn't know what was under there or what is behind the shadows. Those are the fear of uncertainties or the unknown. But when the scare comes alive in front of our eyes then actual fear happens. The terrible things start to happen in front of our eyes, and the actual terror begins. Funny Games it's nothing but a portrayal of terror on the screen.

There are monster films, there are slasher films and there are atmospheric horrors and psychological horror and there is this. Funny Games is a complete mockery of audiences by the director. It is a film directed by Michael Haneke who is known for his psychological thriller dramas and he made one after one acclaimed films over the years. I have not yet seen every one of his films but I can say this, as far as it goes out for terrifying the audience this can surely take the cake.


So what happens in the movie is that a couple moves to a lake house for spending their vacation along with their only child. When they are passing by the neighbors they ask them to help them with their new boat and eventually, they come to help them after the neighbors left a young guy comes to their house claiming he is a neighbor asking for eggs, and soon another of his companion joins him in the couples house. And after a few moments, it becomes evident that these two guys are not going to go but stay. And then their sadistic game of torturing that family begins.

The film started with a drone shot following the couple to their car while they're talking and listening to classical music and it's suddenly changed into heavy metal music. It becomes clear that things are going to descend into chaos. Although it's a home invasion film alongside a sub of slasher film there are no scenes of active violence. As the film goes by the two guys who invaded the family's home start to play one statistic game after another. As a part of the torture. they start to beat them up, sometimes telling them to sing a prayer and tell them if they're able to do it right they might do the next thing while being alive. But the difference here is in other home invasion or horror or slasher films there are bloodbaths. Here the violence is happening off-screen. For example, instead of showing the killing of a certain character, we are only shown blood splattered all over the wall and we hear a gunshot while a static camera focuses on an antagonist.


When I first saw the film I had a hard time making sense of it because it is just complete suffering one after another. In a typical horror film, you can see at least one protagonist have some sort of chance at winning in the end even after losing everything but here Haneke makes it clear that he is the main lead and he defies all the expectations of audiences can have one after another in this film. At one point there was a moment of revelation, a moment where a chance occurs but then one of the villains breaks the fourth wall and kills that chance in front of the audience's eyes. He tells the audience this is not going to happen and the film is not about to end yet because it's not future length yet hence the torture shall go on. It becomes absolutely clear at that point who is going to win this game at the end.

Haneke made this film keeping in mind how the western media have glamorized the pain and suffering in horror films or in slasher films. This film was his attempt to criticize the consumption of media by the west. That is why he kept the grotesque violence off the screen but only made the surroundings aware of the violence characters were doing. And he was so successful in doing this that when Funny Games premiered in the Cannes, almost one-third of the audience left the theater by the end of the film.

Some might think what's the point of this film because the film is nearly two hours of endless torture. Clearly, Haneke wanted to make a point against the popularism of violence in film and made it clear that he does not want to be a part of violence pornography. Hence one can see the violence in the film pretty normally such as the breaking of eggs or the struggle of someone with wounded legs. According to him the violence you cannot see but only can hear or feel is much scarier than the violence you are actually seeing. At one point one character of the film asks the antagonist to end it by killing them but then the antagonist says there is the importance of entertainment and she cannot be killed so quickly which is simply a nod to the subtle pleasure people get from seeing the suffering of characters in horror films


In the end, both of the antagonists have a chat and they discuss whether it is fiction or reality. One character, the one which breaks the fourth wall implies that if our sense is the only medium to our reality then there might be no difference between fiction and reality. Because we are experiencing them both and the same time so what we are seeing might be real or might have been fiction. Even the characters might have been fictitious but at the same time and they could be our very first reality.

Acknowledging the post that arranged the contest here. Thanks for this opportunity.

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