DARKMATTERS - The Mind of Matt

You met me at a very strange time in my life...

Read my novel: Complete Darkness

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Monday, September 22, 2008

Battle of the Random Killers - The Strangers vs Funny Games

Let the games begin – because you were home…

Or Matt Adcock’s thoughts on very bad things happening to people in their own homes – for our viewing pleasure.

2008 has seen at least two hard hitting horror films that cover the terrifying territory of unprovoked home invasion, torture and slaying.

Are these valid ‘what if’ scenarios which explore the darkest recesses of human barbarity? Or are we looking at two shameless sadistic horror flicks that do nothing but titillate our repressed senseless blood lust? You decide...

Here are the plots:

Funny Games (18)

Michael Haneke’s shot-by-shot remake of his own 1997 exploration of violence which sees bourgeoisie family, comprised of wife Anna, husband George, and son Georgie, take their summer vacation at their luxurious lake-front house on Long Island. Shortly after settling in, a young man by the name of Peter shows up at the front door and is joined by another young man, Paul. The men seem very polite at first, but soon, their natures are revealed when they take the family hostage and begin to play games that involve physically and mentally torturing them. The games gradually get more life-threatening, and eventually Paul makes a bet with the audience: the family will be dead by 9 am the next morning. The majority of the film focuses on whether the family will survive the night.

The Strangers (15)

"What you are about to see is inspired by true events. According to the F.B.I. there are an estimated 1.4 million violent crimes in United States of America each year. On the night of February 11, 2005 Kristen McKay and James Hoyt went to a friend's wedding reception and then returned to the Hoyt family's summer home. The brutal events that took place there are still not entirely known."

After returning from a wedding reception, a couple staying in an isolated vacation house receive a knock on the door in the mid-hours of the night. What ensues is a violent invasion by three strangers, their faces hidden behind masks. The couple find themselves in a violent struggle, in which they go beyond what either of them thought capable in order to survive.

The overall Darkmatters verdicts:

Funny Games: öööööööö (8 out of 10)
An intelligent, desperate and wilfully grim non-mainstream look into the unthinkable

The Strangers öööööö (6 out of 10)
Effective in places but somewhat lacking overall, walks in the shadow of Funny Games and Ils

Both are effectively nasty in their own way. Funny Games cleverly makes the audience implicit in the events whilst The Strangers maintains a deeper air of mystery until the end.
Neither of these films are going to make you feel any better about us as a species – but sometimes I think it’s important for cinema to challenge, to take an audience to the edge of sanity and immerse them in the darkness – at least as a viewer you have a choice…

Darkmatters poster quote:
“Staying in your own home... can be murder...”

If you likes these types of films – look out for The Poughkeepsie Tapes which looks like delivering another mother-load of unsettling nastiness…

Film reviewing
"an act by which severe pain or suffering, whether physical or mental, is intentionally inflicted on a person for such purposes of intimidation or manipulation of the reader…"

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