In recent years, the world's horror movies have become showings of glorified torture that does not scare or disturb, but simply disgusts. Austrian director Michael Haneke apparently noticed this trend, and decided to make his own horror movie as a form of commentary on how our existence has become consumed with watching others struggle for their lives. This movie was the original Funny Games, released in Austria in 1997. But in an attempt to reach out to a more global scale, (more specifically, Americans), Haneke remade his own film shot for shot with English speaking actors and a more American setting. This film was called Funny Games U.S. Very creative. Since the American version was a shot for shot remake of the original just with different actors, I will mainly speak of the actors and characters in this version, for redundancies sake. The story centers on George, Anne, and Georgie Farber (Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, and Devon Gearhart), a typical family that has recently arrived at their beautiful summer lake house. Soon after their arrival, the family is confronted by two young men, Peter and Paul (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet), who have simply come over to borrow some eggs. After a small altercation, the family realize Peter and Paul aren't there to play around...or maybe that's exactly why they're there. The 2 young men hold the family hostage and force them to take part in a series of games that ultimately result in death. Can the family win the bet and stay alive for 12 hours, or will these psychotic young men get the best of them?
To reiterate something I mentioned before, the reason Haneke made these films was to point out how we've become obsessed with watching others suffer in the fictional world of a movie. This is blatantly obvious as Haneke actually has the characters address the audience directly on several occasions. The only problem with Haneke's mentality is the fact that other than those little asides to the movie-goers, he doesn't do much to show us the "error of our ways". What he does give us is yet another movie that falls into the category of glorified torture. His directing is much more tasteful than other horror directors, as he doesn't actually show any deaths on screen. This happens to be one of the only redeeming qualities of the films. But at other times, his directing becomes dragged out and simply boring. There were long moments without dialogue or even movement that caused me to believe my screen had frozen. I also found it very disappointing that for a movie called "Funny Games", there weren't many actual games. I think Haneke was trying to go for a psychological kind of game, but if so he failed, because he managed to just bore me.
The acting in Funny Games U.S. was better than that in Funny Games, which is the only reason I am going to give it a higher rating. Tim Roth and Naomi Watts were much more believable as the distraught husband and wife who are being subjected to these torturous games. In the original film, the actors didn't make me feel sorry for them. I remained uninterested in their fates. Even though I watched the US version second and I knew what was going to happen, I still felt more involved and had much more interest in their stories. I also really enjoyed Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet as the maniacal pair that hold the family hostage. But even with the slightly better acting, Funny Games US falls prey to the same problems as Funny Games, which lie mainly in Haneke's poor directing and writing.
Both Funny Games films are about an hour and 40 minutes long, which is the typical running time for a movie. But because of the slow pace and boring directing, both films seem to never end. Although neither are anywhere near as bad as other modern horror films, I wouldn't particularly recommend either of them. But if your interest has peaked, I suggest the American version, just for the better acting. My Ratings: Funny Games (4/10) Funny Games US (5/10)