Director: Michael Haneke
You can rarely beat an original, and Funny Games is a prime example. Michael Haneke’s 2008 U.S. remake is undoubtedly a tough watch, but it’s far less scarring than this 1997 original, which presents the exact same series of events yet pierces the senses much more sharply.
For one, there are no recognizable Hollywood stars (i.e., Naomi Watts or Tim Roth) that allow us to acknowledge that Funny Games is only a movie. More importantly, though, the general concept was unique back in ’97; take the film’s unexpected use of internal rewinding, for example, through which one of the bad guys erases his partner's death, pretty much shitting all over the viewers’ hopes for a happy ending.
Like most of his films, Funny Games comes from a truly dark place within Haneke’s mind, a section of the brain where his most cynical thoughts lie, and, basically, we’re all seen as scum. Folks who’ll gladly pay to see people brutally murdered on screen, as long as there’s fresh popcorn and overpriced soda on hand.
By the time the fittingly bleak ending of Funny Games reaffirms the notion that Haneke is one sick (and clever) fuck, you’ll feel quite bad about yourself. Or you’ll want to slap Big Mike in the face for subjecting your eyes to such unwavering nihilism. Either way, it will leave a mark.