Film / Funny Games

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Anna: Why don't you just kill us?
Peter: You shouldn't forget the importance of entertainment.

Austrian filmmaker and social critic Michael Haneke made Funny Games in 1997, then remade an English-language version ten years later, shot for shot. Although trivially similar to a Gorn film, it's actually meant as a deconstruction of violent media as well as a giant You Bastard at the audience who would want to watch it.

Both films center on a yuppie family arriving at their lakeside vacation house. Pulling into their driveway, they see their neighbor has some new guests, two clean-cut young men wearing white gloves who look like they've just walked off the golf course. The men soon arrive on the family's doorstep making a number of requests and imposing on their hospitality. Eventually the family tires of them and ask them to leave, but they ignore the requests. After the husband slaps one of the men, they break his leg with his own golf club and take the family hostage. Though maintaining a nonchalant and even friendly facade, it soon becomes clear that the two men are psychopaths who intend to torment the family with a number of cruel games before murdering them. Can they survive?


This movie contains examples of:

  • Adaptational Attractiveness: Compare Naomi Watts from the remake with Susanne Lothar who played Anna in the original.
  • Action Survivor: Subverted. The wife displays a spontaneous burst of badassery when she snatches a gun and shoots one of the villains to kingdom come, but this doesn't stop the other villain from literally rewinding time to undo it.
  • Alone with the Psycho: The family is tyrannized by two psychopaths that invade their home.
  • AM/FM Characterization: The family listens to opera music which establishes them as being of the middle-class. Peter and Paul listen to death metal.
  • Anguished Declaration of Love: By the mother to the father before climbing out of the window to look for help.
  • Aside Glance: Paul gives one of these to the camera just before Ann/Anna discovers where he's hidden the dog. It's the first time he breaks the fourth wall.
  • Audience Participation: When Paul makes his mortal bet with the family that they won't last until sunrise, he turns to the camera and suggests that the audience play along, then comments that you're probably siding with the family.
  • The Bad Guy Wins: To put it shortly, Peter and Paul ultimately win their bet.
  • Beauty Is Never Tarnished: Averted. In both versions, Anna gets visibly more worn out-looking over the course of the film as a result of the abuse.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Peter and Paul.
  • Blown Across the Room: Peter when being shot by Anna with the rifle.
  • Book Ends: The title of the film is shown in red text at the beginning and ending of the film, accompanied by heavy metal.
  • Bound and Gagged: The mother after she was picked up by the villains on the street, and also during the boat ride at the end that she never returns from.
  • Bring My Brown Pants: Poor Georgie couldn't hold it during the "Cat in the Bag" game and ended up peeing his pants.
  • Broken Aesop: Academics have been arguing since the film came out about whether Paul's You Bastard point is valid. There's no need for us to do likewise, mind.
  • Card-Carrying Villain: Paul confess they "rob rich families in smart houses."
  • Cell Phones Are Useless: The mother's cell phone is disabled by it getting dropped in the sink, frying the battery, very much Truth in Television.
  • Chekhov's Gun: Subverted by the knife in the sailboat. There's an insert shot of the knife getting left aboard, and in fact the wife lunges for it at the very end, but it's quickly taken away from her and has no effect on the plot or her fate.
  • Conspicuous Gloves: Two clean-cut young men wear white gloves, making them look a little like golfers. The wife asks about them because they didn't take them off inside of the house, and Paul claims he has eczema. They wear them to hide their fingerprints.
  • Conveniently Placed Sharp Thing: A knife that's been left in the family's boat is later used by a tied-up Anna to try and free herself. Subverted, in that Paul and Peter see her, take the knife away, and throw it overboard.
  • Dangerously Genre Savvy: Paul knows that he's in a film and tracks his deeds based on common plot structure.
  • Deadly Euphemism: How Paul reveals that he killed the dog:
    Paul: I had to test the club in another way.
  • Deceptively Silly Title: A film about two guys who decide to murder a family just because they can in fourth wall breaking fashion is not that funny.
  • Diabolus ex Machina: In this movie, the killers have all the advantages, while the victims don't have any chance to survive. This is most prominently and cruelly shown in the remote control trick.
  • Diabolus ex Nihilo: The duo gives various conflicting accounts of who they are and where they came from, but they're obviously all lies. They have no backstory and no reason to exist except to serve as villains for the movie you're so sadistically viewing.
  • Downer Ending: All three family members are killed before 9:00 the villains win their bet, and the film ends with Paul asking another neighbor for eggs, restarting their "game".
  • Euroshlock: It's not gory or pornographic, but its nihilistic tone and implicit condemnation of the audience make it seem suited to the genre.
  • Evil-Detecting Dog: The family's German Shepard barks wholeheartedly at the villains. The clue remains unnoticed.
  • Fat and Skinny: Peter and Paul in the original.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Both Peter and Paul make a big show of being very polite and considerate, which is all a part of their sadistic game.
  • Foreign Language Title: Funny Games. There has been a lamentable trend in Germany in recent years towards using English titles for German-language films.
  • For the Evulz: The killers give conflicting Freudian Excuses for their deeds, reducing it to simple, pointless evil.
  • Fourth-Wall Observer: Paul addresses the audience regularly and near the climax even rewinds part of the film itself.
  • Freudian Excuse: Deconstructed when the father asks his two tormentors why they are hurting his family. Genre Savvy as they are, the villains poke fun at him, coming up with various reasons like one of them being a child of divorce which made him become a queer and a crook or him having five siblings with all of them being drug addicts while his father was The Alcoholic. None of this was true as they immediately point out.
  • Genre Deconstruction / Deconstructor Fleet: The film subverts your expectations of home invasion horror and thus continues to frustrate fans of the genre.
  • Gory Discretion Shot: The death of the husband. The son gets a Sound-Only Death.
  • Here We Go Again: The bulk of the film is neither the first nor last time these killers will play their game. We see them with the neighbors early on, and then see them starting the whole thing over again with some other neighbors at the end.
  • Hope Spot: The entire movie is filled with situations where you feel hopeful for the victims, like something would turn in their favor, and each time that door is slammed shut.
    • First we witness the family's friends arriving in a boat but bummer, an old man and his two female partners pose no threat to the villains.
    • The son gets hold of a shotgun and shoots at Paul. Too bad the rifle wasn't loaded.
    • The killers suddenly leave, giving the husband and wife some glimmer of hope that they'll survive. Paul later lampshades that this was necessary for traditional plot structure.
    • The cellphone comes back to life, giving the survivors hope of rescue. But no, the Distress Call amounts to nothing.
    • The wife manages to grab the killers' gun and shoot one of them. It looks like the other killer loses his mind when he tries to undo the event with a remote control, but it actually works. The scene rewinds and this time the killers hang onto the gun.
    • When the wife is tied up in the boat and they are about to push her into the lake, she spots the knife her son had left there earlier and for a few moments it looks like she might actually be able to get away. However, one of the killers notices it too and grabs it before she has a chance to take it.
  • Improvised Weapon: The villains arrive unarmed but find a golf club to be of great use against the father.
  • Infant Immortality: Averted. Georgie is the first one to die.
    • Also, the neighbor's daughter is seen lying dead in the bathroom of their house.
  • It Works Better with Bullets: The son directs a rifle at Paul and pulls the trigger. Nothing happens. Turns out the weapon wasn't loaded.
  • Karma Houdini: The two killers receive no comeuppance. In the end, the dominant killer even smirks triumphantly at the camera as he prepares to kill again.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The original is full of scenes like this, most notably immediately after Paul and Peter kill Georgie.
  • Left the Background Music On: Both versions begin with a helicopter shot of a car driving through a country road set to classical music. Then voice-overs of the family in the car begin discussing the music, revealing that it's playing from the car stereo.
  • Light Is Not Good: The villains are dressed all in white.
  • May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?: The two men first come over to borrow some eggs.
  • Moving the Goalposts: Paul enjoys doing this to the mother. First he only wants her to recite a prayer. Then he demands her to pronounce it in a more affectionate way. Next he wants her to kneel while saying the prayer. Lastly she is supposed to recite the prayer back to front.
  • Multiple-Choice Past: Paul tells a few different stories about his and Peter's background and motivations, none of which are likely to be true.
  • Ninja Prop: The TV remote, used to literally rewind the film so that Paul can stop the protagonists.
  • No Fourth Wall: Paul is completely aware that he's in a film. He smirks at the camera several times and makes snide comments to the audience about what they expect will happen. He also makes several comments that the killers' timing and sequence of actions are based on traditional plot structure.
  • Nothing Is Scarier: The excruciatingly suspenseful scene where Georgie is being hunted down by Paul in the neighbors' house, where everything is dark and deathly silent and you know that Georgie might be caught at any moment..
  • The Oner: In the Austrian version, shortly after the gun goes off, there is an 11-minute shot in which very little happens, but the full horror of the scene can be soaked in.
  • Ooh, Me Accent's Slipping: Tim Roth slides between his natural English accent (as in Pulp Fiction) and his much more nasal, higher-pitched American accent (as in Reservoir Dogs).
  • Reality Has No Soundtrack: The lack of scare sounds is just one more convention of the horror genre that Haneke breaks with. Heavy metal is played in-universe at one point to heighten the tension.
  • "The Reason You Suck" Speech: Directed to you (us?) the viewer because by watching this movie, you allowed its universe to exist through your thoughts.
  • Retcon: Within the film! Paul rewinds the movie using a remote, inside the movie, and undoes a death.
  • Sadistic Choice:
    • The husband is forced to decide between the wife taking off her clothes or Paul inflicting pain on the son.
    • The wife is forced to decide if the villains kill her husband quickly by gunshot, or slowly by knife.
  • Shoot the Shaggy Dog: Not only do all the sympathetic characters die, but this is neither the first nor last time that this exact scenario has played out for the killers.
  • Shot-for-Shot Remake: The American remake, by the same director, is almost exactly the same, but English speaking actors are used instead of German and Austrian actors.
  • Shout-Out:
  • The Sociopath: The two boys who decide to torture families as a pastime.
  • Sound-Only Death: When Georgie is killed, it happens in the next room as we see Paul making food, and we only hear the sound of the rifle going off and see a blood-spattered television immediately afterward.
  • Soundtrack Dissonance: The movie starts with a happy family driving through a beautiful country road and listening to opera. When the credits begin, the soundtrack suddenly switches to a shockingly discordant and abrasive song with grinding guitars, piercing trumpets, and meaningless screeching.
  • The Spooks: The origins (and real names) of Peter and Paul remain unknown throughout the film, and they are complete strangers to all of their victims.
  • Stress Vomit: The mother vomits after her son is shot.
  • Stunned Silence: After Georgie is killed, the parents sit motionless and in silence for over a minute.
  • Take That, Audience!: A number of events in the film are arguably this, including the rewind scene, in which the audience is given what it wants and then cruelly undone. This is confirmed by interviews with the director Haneke.
  • They Look Just Like Everyone Else: Take a look at Paul and Peter. No one can imagine what kind of vicious, twisted killers they are.
  • Those Two Bad Guys: The central antagonists seem to function between themselves as a slightly realer, less comical version of this trope.
  • Undignified Death: The ultimate humiliation for the mother is how she dies. Her son gets shot and her husband gets stabbed, but she gets bound and gagged and taken for a boat ride. After Peter and Paul have been sailing for some time with her sitting between them, they just shove her off the back of the boat and sail on without looking back.
  • Villainous Breakdown: Subverted when Peter and Paul pull their Freudian Excuse prank on the father.
  • Would Hit a Girl: One of the villains slaps the mother hard.
  • Would Hurt a Child: The killers don't mind murdering entire families, children included.
  • You Bastard: The entire point of the films.


http://tvtropes.org/pmwiki/pmwiki.php/Film/FunnyGames