I did think about it. Eventually I sent my friend an email including the following passage:
[T]he other day I spotted Amateur Porn Star Killer amongst Co-Habit-Tron 3000's movies, remembered you had mentioned it, and then I thought about watching/reviewing it. I decided to first check out some other reviews of it to see what I would be getting myself into (conclusion: not well made (perhaps purposefully), lots of graphic sex (with a "13 year old"! yay!), and ultimately not a good movie)...which led to discovering that there are far, far worse films on the market than APSK- far worse than Hostel or Captivity or whatever could hope to be. Reading about the depravity of these films sent me into a downward spiral regarding the state of the human condition, what people will make- and watch- for 'entertainment'...and had me questioning my taste in entertainment and wondering whether or not I should, in fact, enjoy horror movies so much.I go through this...crisis every once in a while. Why the fuck do I like horror movies? Do I really want to see some teenager stabbed to death? How is that "fun"? Obviously, these crises never turn me off of horror for good (insert terrible Al Pacino in Godfather III impression here)- though my friend takes credit for sending me into this particular crisis and she's wearing it like a merit badge- and the next thing you know I'm adding Twitch of the Death Nerve to my Amazon Wish List. Maybe it's better to question one's own tastes from time to time. Maybe this example speaks to my conscience, speaks to the fact that I'm not completely jaded and cynical, and silences the argument that horror movies completely desensitize everyone to all horrors, real and imagined.
How fitting, then, that this week, when I'm in the midst of therapy sessions with myself, that I go to a screening of the Funny Games remake.
I haven't seen the original version- in fact, I'd never seen a Michael Haneke film before this week. Given my then-current state of mind regarding horror and brutality and violence, I was reticent to go see this one; the story of a family suffering brutality after their summer home is invaded doesn't necessarily get my juices flowing. But then, Tim Roth is in it and I haven't seen him in ages. But then, Naomi Watts is in it and to be honest, I'd pay to watch her in a film where she does nothing but insult me for 90 minutes...maybe even if it co-starred Paul Reiser. But then, trusted sources have told me to check out Michael Haneke.
I had no idea what to expect from Funny Games. Beyond the half-sentence plot summary I gave you above, I didn't know anything about it...well, other than the fact that Haneke remade his own film.
I've never seen anything quite like this, and I'm still reeling from it days later. The film exists to push the audience, to force the audience to examine their relationship with violence and their desire to witness on-screen violence as entertainment. Though the movie as a whole speaks to these notions, Haneke uses several clever- and, at times, maddening- devices to push buttons. The most obvious examples occur when Haneke has characters break the fourth wall to ask the audience what they want to see. It's a slap in the face- not that I'm complaining. I think people need their buttons pushed in a smart way; I think, as I said earlier, that people should question why they want to see people get hurt on-screen. Most people don't enjoy being forced into self-reflection, however, and I'm expecting most audiences aren't going to enjoy Funny Games.
Odd word choice, that: "enjoy". Did I actually enjoy Funny Games? No, absolutely not. I didn't "enjoy" it at all. I marveled at the acting. I was astounded by what I was seeing. I took notes on Haneke's storytelling techniques. This, however, is one of the toughest films I've ever had to sit through...mind you, Haneke doesn't really show us any of the brutality. The aftermath- and we do see the aftermath- of the violence tends to be the raw emotional aftermath. You don't need to see a damn thing to feel for this family; it's mostly a dance of words, of anticipation, expectation, and tension.
I commented afterward that I loved the fact that there was no explicit violence, that I could react so very strongly without it. Would actually seeing a helpless character get punched in the face have made me even more sympathetic? No, I don't think so. My viewing companion, however, was disappointed by the lack of explicitness. This shocked me, and we ended up talking about why she felt that way- which is, at least in part, the point of the film.
Horror fanboys and girls who have been seeing posters for the film slathered all over genre websites will perhaps hate this film. There's no "pay off" like there is in, say, Hostel. Most people who want the violence and the gore but find none aren't going to say "Hmm. Why do I feel the need to see it? Why the bloodlust?"...they're going to go home and take in another viewing of Hostel. Or Saw MCMXLV.
Whether or not that sounds like you, maybe you should go see Funny Games when it's released tomorrow. I can't remember when I've been so profoundly affected by a film, horror or otherwise.
*screengrabs pinched from My New Plaid Pants, who's been looking forward to this movie forever.