Warner Independent Pictures
Jack Rico / ShowBizCafe
March 14, 2008 AT 11:55 AM EDT

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Cast: Michael Pitt , Tim Roth, Naomi Watts, Brady Corbet

Director: Michael Haneke

Script: Michael Haneke

Rated: R for terror, violence and language.

Genre: Horror

Grade: C+

Michael Haneke’s new film Funny Games is about a vacationing family trapped in their house by a pair psychologically disturbed youths, a replica of his original Austrian film of the same title, made in 1997.

The idea of making an English-language version of the film 11 years later reflects just how perverse Haneke is. Why not spend the money on creating something better? Or on tweaking the details that didn’t work in the original?

Because of irrelevant and incoherent scenes thrown in at the movie’s end, the film loses all credibility with the audience. But on top of this, the awkward finale undermines the film’s possibility – again! – of being a masterpiece, leaving us with just a newer version of a mediocre avant-garde film.

Haneke did manage, though, to uphold the cinematographic quality. Plus, the film boasts good performances from a cast that includes Naomi Watts, Tim Roth and Michael Pitt. But even though their performances don’t stumble, the decisions the characters make don’t cease to annoy this critic.

Funny Games begins with some intense and captivating scenes. Sadly, though, the director’s attempt to deceive and manipulate the audience isn’t worth the viewers’ emotional, mental and economic investment in the film. Better to wait for this one to come out on DVD.

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