Synopsis: The movie opens with the happy family passing the time in their car by playing guess-the-composer. The classical music transitions into loud heavy metal foreshadowing that their happy vacation will soon take a violent turn. On their way to their cabin they have a quick, awkward meeting with their friends, who are joined by two unknown visitors. As they get settled into their vacation they are visited by the two young men, who are obviously not as well-intentioned as they make themselves out to be. Under the guise of an attempt to borrow some eggs the situation quickly evolves into a hostage situation. After it is revealed that the two men have killed the family dog (which was disturbingly realistic), it’s pretty clear that this won’t be your standard good-guys-win thriller. They then play a series of games with the victims, mostly involving how and when they will die. In between a few near-escapes Hart starts to talk to the audience, and at one point literally rewinds the action. By its conclusion we are supposed to feel complicit in the torture of the main characters, and feel bad that we are so easily amused by the unrealistic violence and easy resolutions of the average American film.
+ Even after suffering unspeakable horrors to your family and with your death a certainty, you’ll still do whatever it takes to turn off NASCAR.
+ The acting is all top-notch.
+ Often times when someone skewers the ultra-violence of American movies they end up wallowing in the same blood and gore that they are attempting to implicate. Haneke at least has the confidence to keep his violence off-screen, thus sharpening his tired thesis.
+ As in Cache, the director is brilliant at building the suspense. The fact that at the end he tells us that we are all stupid for being reeled in seems to insult his own style more than our bloodlust.
- The frequent long takes. I understand the point of showing a five-minute scene of Naomi Watts struggling to stand up, but it’s not effective in doing anything but showing the filmmaker’s contempt for the audience.
- The cheap trick of having Hart engage the audience (and the late scene with the remote control) is supposed to be a clever way of turning us into accomplices. But it comes off as lazy and self-indulgent.
- Haneke constantly reminding us how much smarter he is than anyone with a $9.00 ticket in their back pocket.
- People have been making this point for years. The message might have resonated back in 1997 (even then it was predated by Natural Born Killers), but now it just seems old.
Writing - 7
Acting - 8
Production – 9
Emotional Impact - 5
Music - 4
Significance - 2
Total: 35/50= 70% = C-
Last Word: Earlier I pointed out that the trailer was brilliant, a response which in itself makes me guilty of the film’s accusations. In it we see a charismatic psychopath cryptically talking about the “importance of entertainment” with words such as daring and magnificent flashing on-screen. I didn’t know anything about the original, and I’ll just come out with it, it looked “cool.” Well that just makes me one of the masses who unknowingly eats up the unrealistic filth that