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Watts the damage

PUBLISHED: 16:35 02 April 2008 | UPDATED: 17:10 16 August 2010

TEN years on from the release of his disturbing German-language critique of screen violence Funny Games, Austrian director Michael Haneke has produced a shot-for-shot English-language replica using Hollywood actors with similarly brut

Funny Games

Cert 18

TEN years on from the release of his disturbing German-language critique of screen violence Funny Games, Austrian director Michael Haneke has produced a shot-for-shot English-language replica using Hollywood actors with similarly brutal results.

While away holidaying in their summer home on Long Island, Ann (Naomi Watts), her husband George (Tim Roth), and their son Georgie (Devon Gearhart) are visited by two polite clean-cut young men named Peter and Paul (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet), who ask to borrow some eggs.

The two interlopers quickly insinuate themselves into the household, hold the family captive and subject them to a series of sadistic games.

The film is skilfully put together and features an excellent performance from Watts in portraying her character's anguish in the face of the senseless attack. Pitt is similarly on the money as the cherubic sociopath as he casually subjects the family to a relentless onslaught of violence.

Haneke keeps most of the brutality offscreen but that does little to soften its impact.

In reproducing the film for a more mainstream public, Haneke is presumably hoping that the central themes of cinema encouraging voyeurism and glorifying violence will be more effective if they reach a wider audience. Realistically, the chances are that the message will be lost on a generation of viewers accustomed to the blood-soaked slasher films of the 70s and 80s as well as the more recent gory excesses of Eli Roth's Hostel films and the Saw series. Such viewers will see the film as little more than a stylish horror movie and in that respect it can be considered something of a noble failure.

Funny Games opens in cinema on April 4.

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