Sinister Screens

Funny Games (1997) ★★

Funny Games


A nightmare.

Two psychotic young men take a mother, father, and son hostage in their vacation cabin and force them to play sadistic “games” with one another for their own amusement.


The original German language release of Funny Games is considered one of the most disturbing films of all time, cited by a number of sources. Disturbing is a relative term and can be interpreted many different ways by different people. However, across the board, this film is no doubt disturbing, but it manifests itself in a very different way.

Most of the violence and gore happens away from the camera. There is no nudity or taboo sexual scenes. There is just a supreme undertone of nihilism on display that smacks viewers in the face. The psychological trauma caused by the two assailants is brash, relentless, bold and it’s all accomplished without even a hint of remorse or empathy.

On top of this, the viewer becomes a willing accomplice to the atrocities. So much so that the lead psychopath turns to the camera several times just to smirk or admonish their willingness to be entertained by the violence. It’s the viewer’s choice to watch and witness what happens next to this innocent family. This is why Funny Games strikes such a nerve with so many people. It’s smug in many ways.

However, the interplay between the antagonists and the camera, or viewer, only accomplished one thing for me. It weakened the movie. It took me out of the reality of the events and pushed them squarely onto a stage. Movies are art, blurring the perceptions of reality. So any guilt or anger one might feel towards what’s taking place in this movie was instantly lost on me. It’s almost the opposite effect surely intended by the director. Others who this movie struck as disturbing obviously didn’t succumb to that same response. Or lack thereof.

Overall, Funny Games had its merits, but there’s just not much of a plot or unique twist to fall back on for me to describe it as a good film. Its only merit is to disturb. And I came away largely unaffected by it.

Rating: ★★ (out of 5)

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