It seems that I missed out on many good movies these years. The better to by guided (my I dare say forced) to catch up with them. Fuck they even did a remake of this classic. That’s when it pays to have somebody to scare you just prior to watching this movie. After the first 15 quiet minutes we had to stop becose my dear friend was getting back to the first contact with it.
I must admit, beside the brilliant White Ribbon, I was a complete neophyte to Haneke’s work. He’s maybe one of the most astute and unceremoniously brutal critics of conservative, bland and unspectacular life of the upper middle class in Austria (where he’s from) and elsewhere.
Using a classic horror slasher ploy – lake, families, remote vacation site, he builts a spectacle of cruelty and terror that we will never be able to repress or hide completely. It also had the macabre addenda that nearly all the main actors are now dead.
His anti-heroes are somehow different from any psychopathic killers we’ve encountered on screen, and closer to the camera-conscious nihilistic killers like Poolvoerde & Bonzel Man Bites Dog/It Happened in Your Neighborhood from 1992. Mode than the poor housing estates, social housing disaster of the above mentioned, the psycho duo are uber polite, they are dressed in white, they are a social elite, tenis playing and golf-bat hitting youngsters.
In fact they are more into reality games, bets and ennui than anything else. They are also well aware of the explanation-cascade experts and the media is producing in order to account for senseless crimes that actually seem to have a life of their own governed by internal game theory rules and stakes.
The target family, completely nuclear (mother, father, son) are innocent, not at all harbingers of their own doom, they are really incapable of saving themselves because they somehow fail to stick to some unwritten rules. They are trapped under their nice responsive surface and their own fear hormones seems to attract more violence and abuse. They are fit to be brutalized in their own vacation home. Very easily incapacitated or bullied because of their plans, their fixed patterns (sailing, cooking, helping the neighbours).
It is really interesting how Haneke infiltrates the first inkling of coming horror. Wearing white gloves and carrying and then dropping eggs is doing an incredible effective job. Just by being in the kitchen, checking the house and borrowing some eggs transmits some heavy preparative earthquakes. We realize slowly that the whole neighborhood is actually a deadscape or deathscape – the families around are also former or future victims of a cinematic ploy where the mortal script decides who dies and when and in what order.