10. FUNNY GAMES (2008)
Did Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke need to remake his 1997 gut-puncher Funny Games for American audiences in shot-for-shot fashion? Not really, and, truthfully, this stateside version of the controversial writer-director’s most polarizing film adds little to nothing in the way of fresh ideas or plot revisions. In the same breath, though, it’s just as skillfully acted and thematically devastating as its predecessor.
Naomi Watts and Tim Roth play a loving husband/wife team who, along with their young son, are held under the psychotic control of two sadistic, seemingly yuppie douchebags (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet). Breaking the fourth wall, Pitt frequently talks directly into the camera, involving the audience in hideous acts of torture-porn-like violence, including a shotgun blast that kills one character, leading to an extended post-murder shot that prolongs the grief.
Haneke probably felt compelled to redo Funny Games for Americans as a response to Hollywood smashes like Saw and Hostel, flicks that exist only to show people being killed and maimed for the viewers’ collective pleasure; with Funny Games, Haneke implicates the film’s watchers in the nightmare, using Pitt’s character to question our reasons for voluntary witnessing Watts shriek, Roth having his bones broken, and a little kid’s sudden death. Good luck trying to answer him.