Thursday, February 07, 2008

Review - Funny Games vs. Straw Dogs

One of the podcasts I respect stated that Funny Games (FG) was a movie everyone had to see. I tried to watch Funny Games a few months ago and couldn't stomach it. One of my friends encouraged me to watch Straw Dogs (SD) which seemed like a cartoon compared to what I saw of the other movie. I had to see Funny Games to its conclusion.

I told her that Straw Dogs was like Home Alone compared to Funny Games and she just couldn't believe that comparison because Straw Dogs essentially gave her nightmares. I brought the movie to their house and they couldn't get take it after the golf club to the knee.

I will assume you have seen both movies. If not, you will get spoilers, although I will try to not give too much away.

Family goes to the country to escape city life for a little while.

A 'braniac' man, not one that uses his muscles for a living. The woman is strong, but is under appreciated by her man. This fundamental issue causes all of the problems that follow.

Cheeky twenty-something brats bored with there lives looking for some action.

The obvious confrontation between the pros and antis. Various things happen and many people die.

So far the two movies are identical. There is really only one difference:

SD took FOREVER to get to the good action, so-to-speak. FG gets going within the first 15 minutes.

SD: antagonists die. FG: protagonists die.

SD started out as an odd little movie with no really dark overtones to start. There are some shenanigans but nothing to worry about. The husband is so into his work that he ignores his wife, even after she points it out (ala The Shining). The guys working on the house have a history with the wife, and she excites that history by parading around topless in front of them. The cat shows up hanged in the closet, but the husband refuses to confront the hooligans--instead he goes hunting with them. It takes him hours to realize he's been duped, but it's much worse than being made a fool. The guy the wife used to like sort-of rapes her, but she almost seems to like it. She definitely didn't like the second guy going at her. She never tells her man about it, though. Skip forward and the couple is holed up in their house guarding a mentally handicapped guy from the hooligans. One by one the husband kills the protagonists with Home Alone-like antics: Scalding oil, broken glass, bear traps. Eventually the antagonists prevail.

FG started out much weirder. The prologue uses classical music, but the beginning credits use extremely violent German music for the background. Right away the family notices something odd but they don't worry about it until the dog wails. The husband comes in to find the wife confronting the hooligans but he doesn't support her right away. He eventually realizes she was right but it was too late--his kneecap gets busted by one of his own golf clubs. It really goes downhill (emotionally) from there.

My friends stopped at the golf club. Much worse things follow, but you never see anything. The beauty of the movie is the way it manipulates you as an audience member. The antagonists even break the fourth wall several times to communicate directly with you and to even alter the plot.

My heart was in my throat the entire time during FG. SD never really caused that effect. My friend stated that she couldn't imagine a movie that would make SD look like Home Alone, but she had to stop FG after the golf club because it was just too intense. Her husband said he could go his whole life without ever finishing that movie.

Alright, this is a really crappy comparison between the two movies. If anything I want you to see FG if you like any kind of snuff, torture or horror films. If you can't handle those then see SD--it will do the job.

It's been over 24 hours and FG still hasn't left my chest, so I still feel tense and uneasy about it. No movie has ever done that to me, and that's amazing considering you don't actually see any of the violent acts save the last one, which isn't violent at all, really.

1 comment:

Jill said...

Your tense chest feeling is the reason that we won't watch that movie. Who wants to feel like that? I'd probably have nightmares for weeks after seeing that movie.