I put off updating my list for about two days because of this movie. Nasty,evil little piece of shit that it is, trying to think of something intelligent to say about it, some way to articulate why I hated it so the "smart people" and the "real cinema fans" will respect my opinion even if they disagree. I finally realized that I can't be nice about it, I simply cant, and so I will be honest, and if that makes me less of a film fan in your eyes because I hate this movie, then so be it.
Here's the deal. This movie is about a rich family who find themselves at the mercy of two young men. The young men appear to be polite, but they invade the house and torture the family until the viewer cries for it to stop (oh the humanity and so forth). At least that's what the movie PRETENDS to be about. What the director is REALLY trying to do, right from the very beginning, is prove to the audience that he is smarter than us, that he knows we REALLY enjoy seeing people tortured and that's why we watch these types of movies, and he's going to play with our expectations and make us sit through a grueling experience to prove that we really want to watch this type of thing happen but we only watch it on film because it's socially unacceptable to really torture and kill people in real life. As one of the annoying, preppy bad actors says near the end of the movie, you can watch real life happen and you can watch a movie happen, so both movies and "real life" ARE reality, since you can observe both (or something like that, I was too busy gouging my ears out with a rusty fork to catch everything, but I got the gist, and thank you so much for preaching at me, oh wise director...now that I don't have ears anymore, I won't have to worry about that kind of thing).
Peter and Paul (the Mary is silent) are the two young men who knock on the family's door at the beginning of the film asking to borrow eggs (but we're smart, attentive film viewers, so we know that they don't REALLY want to borrow eggs, they want to torture the family for entertainment). throughout the movie I kept trying to engage myself and make myself pay attention because the goddamn thing was so fucking boring I was praying for death, so I'd ask myself things like, "What would I do if I were in this situation?" The answer is that I'd never be fucking stupid enough to let two white-gloved strangers into my home, so this movie wouldn't happen to me. Maybe rich people are dumb, I don't know. Anyway, I shit you not when I say that this "egg borrowing" scene goes on for more than twenty minutes, with one of the young men dropping the eggs every time until the mother gets frustrated and tries to throw the men out, but her husband says she is overreacting (because he's an idiot) so the young men stay awhile and eventually the torture begins (for the family at least, we viewers have already been tortured by about a half hour of wasted celluloid that has sucked thirty minutes from our lives that we will never get back).
Therein follows the most banal and boring torture sequence I've ever seen. And I mean EVER. And I've watched "Live Feed." That movie was a million times better than this movie could ever hope to be, because the director of "Live Feed" wasn't a pretentious douchebag who made a movie simply so he could presuppose his own conclusion that human beings are evil and are entertained by violence. Anyway, I tried my best to ignore my rage at the director and get involved in the story in spite of him (I'm used tho this task, having watched many Eli Roth movies in my day) but I couldn't. Every time I'd manage to become engaged in something, one of the young men (Peter or Paul or the invisible Mary) would turn to the screen and wink, or make some comment to me, because you see, the director is SO SMART that even his characters know they're in a movie and they know we're watching and they know that we know that they know that we know that they know...wait, what were we talking about again?
People rant and rave on and on about how brilliant this movie is. How the torturers make the mother of the family strip, but we the audience are "denied the pleasure of seeing her naked" (nah, I can see naked women any time I want in my own bathroom mirror, I don't really watch movies like this to get off, thanks for the insinuation though, it makes you special) or how one senseless act of violence (this whole movie is a senseless act of violence) happens offscreen and then we get to see a long sequence with a blood-spattered TV set and the killers talking amongst themselves, proving that...um...television warps us and makes us violent? There really wasn't any reason to have this shooting occur in front of the TV set, it doesn't make sense spatially with where the characters were right before the camera panned away, but like I said, this movie is SMART (S-M-R-T) and so it can do whatever it wants. Then the camera guy suffers a heart attack or something, because the camera sits still for (I kid you not) ten fucking minutes while the characters sit in stunned silence and DO NOTHING. People really love to talk about how this scene is brilliant. Oh yeah, when nothing happens in a movie for ten minutes, I know "brilliant" is the first word that comes to MY mind (to quote Bart Simpson, "You know what would have been scarier than nothing? ANYTHING!!!") Before you sputter and fume at me, I get it. The people are stunned. I get it. You know what, though? For a movie that claims to use the "shocking realism of the effects of real violence" as one of its tenets, it sure is fucking unrealistic when it wants to be. NO ONE, I don't care how rich or stupid, would have sat for ten minutes doing nothing. they would have tried to do SOMETHING, ANYTHING, to escape. I don't care how stunned you are, that doesn't mean you have to suddenly become a moron. People who scream at characters in regular slasher movies for making irrational moves (like running up stairs) sure seem quick to salivate all over the irrationality on display here. I have HAD horrible things like this happen in front of me, and I can tell you from experience, I didn't sit in the floor for ten minutes to display my stunnedness. It just doesn't happen. Besides, why are people so quick to whine "it's supposed to be realistic" when a fucking character in this movie TALKS TO THE AUDIENCE DURING THE MOVIE? Fuck you, people, you can't have it both ways. you can't shout "REALISM" like a wounded harpy one minute and then praise the rampant unrealism in the same breath. The movie isn't "defying my expectations," it's just being inconsistent with its heavy-handed message.
The characters in this movie make so many stupid moves that it's hard to list them all (I know I lost count after awhile) but I love how they escape only to run ineffectively back and forth (I kid you not, back and forth,back and forth, get captured, escape, run back and forth, back and forth, lather,rinse,repeat) until eventually they're caught again. It's funny, because I'd given up on this movie, and then near the end, something happened that actually took me off guard, something that surprised me, and I thought, "Maybe I'm judging this movie too harshly, maybe I'm wrong about it" and then (I FUCKING KID YOU NOT) one of the characters stands up, grabs the remote control, REWINDS the movie, and then alters the outcome. Yes, you heard me right folks, and I couldn't make this shit up if I wanted to (and why would I want to? Why would anyone?) I saw a low-budget horror movie called "The Roost" once that employed this same technique, and it was a pretentious, ridiculous move then, and it's just as pretentious here. I don't know what's worse, the thought that two directors actually came up with this same stupid idea, or the thought that the director of "The Roost" watched "Funny Games" and thought this garbage was a good idea and stole it. I think I've officially lost the will to live.
I'm sure someone somewhere is snickering and shaking his/her head right now, thinking "you just didn't like the movie because it didn't have a happy ending and that's what you want from a movie. You're mad that the movie flouted your expectations." First of all, fuck you. Second of all, you're wrong. You know what I want (what I really want, besides a million dollars and a pony and world peace?) I want a movie that gives me a reason to watch it. I can take a pretentious exercise in cinema that is trying to explore the idea of why we like violent movies (after all, "The Shining" and "American Psycho" have already explored this idea, just to name two...no, Virgina, there ISN'T an original idea in this movie) as long as the movie gives me a reason to keep watching. If the director is going to shake his head from his perch atop an ivory tower (on top of Mount Privilege) and shake his head at me for continuing to watch his movie (you know you're really identifying with the villains,right? Actually, no, I'm not identifying with anyone in this drivel, but thanks for the assumption). That kind of sneering bullshit is something I don't need. So the movie finally ends (miracle of miracles) and I've heard people say that the movie is masterful and brilliant for daring to have an ending that isn't happy (hey, for my money, anything that makes this movie STOP is a happy ending) but that irks the shit out of me. The characters tell us throughout the movie that the thing is going to end badly, and then it (gasp, choke, sob) ENDS BADLY. Wow, what a surprise. Hold on.
ME: I'm going to stand up from this chair
*stands up from chair*
ME: There! I just did just what I said I was going to do!
*jumps up and down*
Am I masterful and brilliant yet? Am I? Am I? Huh?
Not working for you? Yeah, it didn't work for me either.
So here's the thing, I finished this torturous exercise in filmic colon cleansing, and I decided to watch the TV show "Criminal Minds" in order to wash my brain out (it's sad when you need to watch "Criminal Minds" to cheer yourself up). On the episode I watched that night, I watched a man being tortured, and I cringed and yelled at the screen for the good guys to rescue him, and I realized something. I felt more emotion in that one hour of television than I felt throughout the entire viewing of "Funny Games." I can still be affected by torture and horror. I'm not desensitized to the point that I don't care, I just didn't care about that movie because it's a pretentious piece of arthouse bullshit. I watch violent movies, and that doesn't make me a bad person who's immune to the power of an emotional appeal. whatever message Michael Haneke was trying to get across when he wrote and directed (and then remade...because he's modest that way) this piece of cinematic swill, he failed as far as I'm concerned. I get it, we shouldn't watch violent movies, it's bad, it makes us bad, you've made your point. I've heard the same thing a million times. But you know what? If I want to watch violent movies, I'm going to watch violent movies, and that is a private matter between me and Clive Barker and Wes Craven and Alexandre Aja, I didn't ask YOUR opinion, so shut the fuck up and eat a bag of dicks, and while you're at it, take your preaching elsewhere, ok?