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:
- Ambiguously Gay: An in-universe example.
- 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
- Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Peter and Paul.
- Card-Carrying Villain: Paul confess they "rob rich families in smart houses."
- Bound and Gagged
- 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.
- 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.
- Dangerously Genre Savvy: Paul knows that he's in a film and tracks his deeds based on common plot structure.
- Diabolus ex Machina: In this movie, the killers have all the advantages, while the victims don't have any chance to survive.
- Diabolus Ex Nihilo
- Downer Ending: Which side did you bet on?
- 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.
- For the Evulz: The killers give conflicting reasons for their deeds, reducing it to simple, pointless evil.
- Genre Deconstruction: Of the "torture porn" subgenre of horror films. Interestingly, the original film predates the most recent revival of the genre that was sparked by the Saw and Hostel films.
- Except that the film shows very little physical violence and no gorn; which is what the torture porn genre relies on. It is more a commentary on abuse as entertainment in general and the deconstruction lies in that it shows this abuse without glorification, without any emotional or moral justifications and without giving the audience the comfort of the dehumanizing effects of gorn and Nausea Fuel.
- Gory Discretion Shot: When Georgie is killed, it happens in the next room, and we only see a blood-spattered television immediately afterward. In fact, the film is surprisingly light on on-screen violence and gore.
- 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, who later show up dead, and see them starting the whole thing over again with some other neighbors at the end.
- Hope Spot: 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.
- Happens again when the killers take the wife out on the boat with the intent to kill her. She finds a knife that was dropped in the boat at the beginning of the movie and tries to cut her bindings when the killers just casually throw her into the water.
- Karma Houdini: Paul even smirks triumphantly at the audience in the end.
- Leave the Camera Running: The original is full of scenes like this, most notably immediately after Paul and Peter kill Georgie.
- May I Borrow a Cup of Sugar?: The two men first come over to borrow some eggs.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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).
- Remake: Almost shot-for-shot and by the same director.
- Retcon: Within the film! A character rewinds the movie using a remote, inside the movie, and undoes a death.
- 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.
- 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.
- 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.
- "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.
- 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.
- Would Hurt a Child: Oh yeah...
- White Gloves: The killers wear them, making them look a little like golfers. The wife asks about them, and Paul claims he has eczema. They're really to hide their fingerprints.
- You Bastard: The entire point of the films.