PRINT March 1998


Michael Haneke's Funny Games

AN EXCRUCIATING compendium of banalities posing as “radical” filmmaking, the Austrian movie Funny Games suggests that celluloid serial killers have grown bored with murder sprees, necrophilic rape, and ritual sex mutilations. No longer content with violence—for—violation’s sake, they feel the need to place their acts in the larger context of media representation: using torture and slaughter for educational purposes, homicidal maniacs must now not only kill but comment on the whole death—making process. Indeed, the movie’s cherubic duo, Peter and Paul—suggesting a pair of run-amok camp counselors for the mentally challenged—from time to time refer to each other as Beavis or Butt-head. These smug twits are meant to propel us onto what the production notes call “a rollercoaster of emotion and analysis.” In a stroke of triumphal displacement, we don’t have a frustrated intelligentsia

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