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Exploited reality: For your viewing pleasure

May 27, 2009

Horror films that end well bother me. A movie in the horror genre should be, well, horrific, and horrific things typically don’t end well.

My criteria for a good horror film:

1) Some type of puppet or clay animation should be used
2) At some point, an eyeball must pop out of a head
3) It must be filmed before 1989 (this isn’t always true, though. For example, Midnight Meat Train was amazing, and it was filmed a year ago)
4) It should have some type of exploitation element (campy or serious is fine)
5) Most everyone should die if there’s to be no sequel

See? There aren’t too many rules.

This weekend, I saw a film that was very good. It was categorized as “horror,” but I think it was more of a thriller. Thriller, horror, whatever – it was good

Funny Games was released in 2007 (it’s a remake of a 1997 German film by the same name.) It stars Naomi Watts and Tim Roth. In the film, a family goes on holiday to relax and unwind. The family arrives at their vacation home and begins to un-pack. Two young, clean-cut men approach the mother (Watts) and father (Roth) and kindly introduce each other. During the lighthearted conversation, one of the young men asks Watts if he can borrow a few eggs.

When Watts retrieves the eggs, the man thanks her, but promptly drops the eggs, apologizes and asks for more. This happens a few times. Watts begins to get angry and tells the men to leave immediately. Around this time, the man (and his friend,) begin to terrorize the family. Legs are broken, animals are killed, and the family’s son runs away.

I won’t go into a lot detail in case anyone wants to watch the film, but the way the men terrorize the family is truly frightening. They inflict the right amount of pain, threaten and continually confuse their prisoners, and leave everyone (including viewers) with the sense that nothing will turn out well. You are certain that everyone will die, but you can’t really believe it. I’ve only seen a few films execute the “no hope” story line (Quarantine (ehh…OK,) 28 Weeks Later (I liked it, sorry,) and The Descent (f’ing good.)

Another reason I enjoyed the film was because it poked fun at reality television. The killers often talk to the camera (while cheesy, it works.) They ask the family members if they “want to make a deal,” play trivia, and engage in sadistic games (such as “Jelly Rolls,” and “Cat in a Bag,”) to pass the time. The killers control and exploit the family’s reality (this is slightly similar to how reality TV creators exploit participants.) The men call all the shots, and know exactly how the family will react to their games.

So, if you are looking for a good thriller (not horror) film to watch while you write about fresh produce and local events (my assignments may be a tinge morbid this week. Note to self: Must edit,) watch “Funny Games.”

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3 Comments leave one →
  1. May 27, 2009 11:02 am

    I keep hearing about this film but never have had an opportunity to get it. I agree with your rules of horror, which is usually why I avoid horror because the slew of new asian horror remakes with that dreaded pg-13 rating don’t do anything for me.

  2. absblabs permalink
    May 27, 2009 2:33 pm

    I agree. The remakes are always terrible. This one, however, was OK. I do need to see the original at some point, though.

  3. shawnlaveryphoto permalink
    May 27, 2009 3:56 pm

    I am tired of PG-13… Whatever happened to making an R movie, regardless if it doesnt make as much money as PG-13?

    Good examples of movies that would have been better rated R:

    Transformers
    Terminator 4
    The Mummy
    Batman

    and I know there are more…

    Its a lame trend.

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