Michael Haneke's Americanized version of his own internationally acclaimed film is quite literally a shot-for-shot remake, with every single character movement and reaction decided well in advance. While this calls into question the validity of remaking the sensational and shocking first film, the original FUNNY GAMES would stand very little chance for success in an American wide release in its original language and without big named actors attached, so it is not as unexpected a remake as it is redundant.
The main reason audiences around the world were willing to accept the often unnatural dialog and off characters in the German language film is due much in part to the fact that the it was foreign, which allowed viewers to suspend disbelief by assuming that the formal sentence structure could be attributed to language barriers between cultures. In the English version, though the words themselves have been fully translated, the language and formal sentence structure do not carry over in to standard every day vernacular, making the dialog between the characters even more awkward and unnatural. This generates a rift distancing the audience from the events on screen, since they do not reflect our reality. Haneke also decides to eliminate the score entirely, forcing the viewer to confront the carefully constructed character exchanges and focus intently on them.
Like in the recasting of Damien in the THE OMEN remake, Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet are too expectantly evil in the roles of Peter and Paul. Their arrival leaves no question as to their intent from the very beginning, so the jarring change in gears exhibited in the original film is completely lost here. The rigid, robotic acting of the entire cast can more likely be attributed to Haneke's direction and clear stylization than to the actors' performances.
The striking commentary that was imbued in the earlier version remains intact in the US film, and it is just as hypocritical that the remake continues to use sensationalistic violence as a tool to make a social critique against violence in the media. In breaking the 4th wall and having the villains address and directly interact with the audience, Haneke constantly poses the question "If you are so shocked and disgusted, why do you continue to watch?" in a series of direct attacks against violence as a form of entertainment. His weapons take on the pseudonyms "Tom and Jerry" as well as "Beavis and Butt-head" at different points throughout the script in reference to the more extreme cartoon characters that have directly and indirectly influenced societies and cultures around the world through their violent actions that constantly pass without consequence.
The purpose of the FUNNY GAMES remake was not so much to improve and better the film in any way, but rather to expose a far greater population to the plot and themes acted out in the original. By choreographing every detail in the exact same way as before, Haneke proves that the actors in his films are inconsequential to his script and style, however this second attempt at generating steam for the film in America still fell drastically short of its intended success. FUNNY GAMES remains to be more suitable as an Art House picture as opposed to an outright Horror film, but its terrifying themes and biting social commentaries still shine through in the US version.
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