Quick Update: Usually, I will try to review new and upcoming films and television shows. However, sometimes, some of the best films were released before this year. The golden oldies, that proves to be a hidden gem, unknown to the regular viewer. Therefore, I am adding a new segment ‘Blast from the Past’, where I review older shows and movies. These will appear under ‘Film Reviews’ or ‘Television Reviews’ in the menu, depending on the criteria.
Slasher horrors are pretty well known subgenre. It’s easily defined and easily spotted… unless the film is called ‘Funny Games’. From the title alone, it’s not hard to tell that this is one film that tends to stray away from its conventions. This is such a bold move in the film industry, that this can spark the evolution of an entire genre. This will depend on how well a film pulls it off.
Plot: When Ann (Naomi Watts), husband George (Tim Roth) and son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) arrive at their summer vacation home, they are visited by Paul (Michael Pitt) and Peter (Brady Corbet), two polite boys. However, this appearance is quickly lost as the pair end up taking the family hostage; betting that the three won’t live the next 12 hours.
*Side note: I haven’t seen the original film so I am not going to compare or contrast.*
As previously stated, it is obvious that this film is unique, both in terms of plot devices/ narrative, to the way the film is shot. I can guarantee that you have never seen a horror film like it. From the outset and throughout, it is clear there has been a lot of thought put into every single shot and use of sound. This is definitely something to be appreciated. As a movie buff, I was having a blast the entire 1hour and 51 minutes. On the other hand, some could argue, that the director and cinematographer are just being pretentious. Even though the film is using these techniques to show originality and skill, and to find creative ways to tell the story, the methods don’t always pay off. The creativity is sometimes unnecessary to the film and even removes its effectiveness. A lot of the horror is always played out off screen, aggravating the audiences, due to the films screen space. Uneventful single shots are often held for far too long and the overall tone created through the filming techniques are slow and still. This strays away from the horror genre, as a lot of the gore and violence is shown off screen. We watch slashers to see blood and guts not to hear screaming over a shot of a table. Again, they could be trying to adapt the film genre but I don’t think anyone will be copying this new style anytime soon. Despite this, the effort is great and you can tell that they are trying something different, bringing in elements from thrillers. Its nice to see that psychological thrillers can fit in nicely with the horror genre. It may sound that im slagging off the film but I’m just saying, it’s not a traditional scream film, rather a great mind fuck.
The narrative also plays out in a way not traditional to horror. The order people die in is a big change in slashers. When they do die, it seems uneventful, as it’s off screen. The horror is created through the tormenting of these characters. Peter and Paul make bets with the family and play games of cat and mouse. The longer and drawn out shots are of the aftermath of the killings and the psychological torture they carry out. The dragging out of the murders is essentially the entire storyline. It’s the other characters reactions that make your skin crawl, rather than a gunshot to the face or a knife to the stomach. This is a really cool way to make the audience scared. We are watching people cry and crawl for 5 minutes, instead of just watching someone die and then changing scene. This requires fantastic acting. You can’t just have a hot woman screaming and running around; these characters need to show a lot of emotion. Luckily, we are given some well-known actors with a strong talent. However, by far the best characters are the killers. Unlike, the usual slashers, you actually get to see the killer’s faces. This both gives them an identity and shows their emotions or lack of. We are no longer just seeing an expressionless mask. Again, the pair pulled it off and in such a smug way, you really want to hit them the entire film… basically, bravo to the casting of this film. They work well within a film so unique.
Another unique element is the 4th wall breaking. This is a trope usually associated with the comedy genre. The killers talk directly to the audience, suggesting that they are only doing this to keep us happy. Furthermore, they give the characters within the film options on the outcome of the film, to “keep the plot development going”. It’s a bizarre concept that they are in fact directing the horror to please an audience that only the killers are aware of. It’s kind of creepy how they know we are watching. This idea of a fake reality, somehow allows Peter and Paul to mess with their world in a God like way. What they change is in their favour, and even suggests that they are immortal. This is frustrating to the audience as anytime the poor victims finally have the upper hand, this is quickly removed. This can be seen as a parody towards the traditional horror monsters, which always come back, no matter what people do to them. A bit of horror comedy never did anyone any harm and I always love it when we can have a laugh in these horrific situations. These elements to the film are only included in the film every so often, keeping viewers on their feet on when they will address the audience next. It’s very suspenseful and I love it.
Overall, the film is so different compared to anything I have seen, it’s a unique adaptation to the horror genre, without showing much horror. It’s clever in the most parts but can sometimes be seen as trying too hard. However, if you are a big film nerd that loves a good camera angle, this should definitely be on your watch list.