TIH 537: Unboxing Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (1997) with Mackenzie Kiera

TIH 537 Unboxing Michael Haneke’s Funny Games (1997) with Mackenzie Kiera

In this podcast, we unbox and analyse Michael Haneke’s cult classic, Funny Games, with special guest, Mackenzie Kiera. This podcast was recorded as part of the House of Bad Memories weekend.

About Funny Games

Funny Games is a 1997 Austrian psychological horror film written and directed by Michael Haneke, and starring Susanne Lothar, Ulrich Mühe, and Arno Frisch.

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The Girl in the Video by Michael David Wilson, narrated by RJ Bayley

Listen to The Girl in the Video on Audible in the US here and in the UK here.

House of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson

From the author of The Girl in the Video comes a darkly comic thriller with an edge-of-your-seat climax.

Denny just wants to be the world’s best dad to his baby daughter, but things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank. Then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie half-sister who demands he uncovers the cause of her father’s death.

Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions?

House of Bad Memories is Funny Games meets This Is England with a Rosemary’s Baby under-taste.

Buy House of Bad Memories from Cemetery Gates Media

Buy the House of Bad Memories audiobook

Michael David Wilson (00:00:29): Welcome to This Is Horror, a podcast for readers, writers, and creators. I'm Michael David Wilson, and every episode alongside my co-host, Bob Pastorall we chat with the world's best writers about writing life lessons, creativity, and much more. Now, today is an episode that we recorded as part of the House of Bad Memories Weekend, a weekend in which we celebrated the release of my debut novel House of Bad Memories, which is available now via Cemetery Gates Media. And in this episode we did one of our story unboxed episodes, which is where we take a book or a film, we dissect, we analyse it, and we talk about some of the writing lessons and the takeaways. Today we unbox the original Funny Games by Michael Haneke. It is a 1997 film. It is a cult classic, and we were fortunate enough to be joined by Mackenzie Kiera, an accomplished writer and one of the co-hosts of the Ladies of the Fright Podcast. Now the first 20 minutes of this conversation, we catch up with Mackenzie. I think that Mackenzie always has interesting things to say, so I urge you to listen to it and find out what she's been up to. But if you're only interested in the Funny games portion of the episode, then may I suggest you skip about 20 minutes ahead. Before we get into this conversation though, a quick advert break,

Bob Pastorella (00:02:18): House of Bad Memories. The debut novel from Michael David Wilson comes out on Friday the 13th this October via cemetery Gates Media. Denny just wants to be the world's best dad to his baby daughter, but things get messy when he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank, then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie Half Sister, who demands he uncovers the cause of her father's death. Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions? Clay McLeod Chapman says, house of Bad memories hit so hard, you'll spit teeth out once you're done reading it. Pre-Order, house of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson and paperback@cemeterygatesmedia.com or an ebook via Amazon.

RJ Bayley (00:03:03): It was as if the video had unzipped my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.

Bob Pastorella (00:03:11): From the creator of This Is Horror comes a new nightmare for the Digital Age. The Girl in the video by Michael David Wilson. After a teacher receives a weirdly arousing video, his life descends in a paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know, but who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and everyone he loves the Girl in the video is The Ring Meets Fatal Attraction from the iPhone generation available now in paperback ebook and audio.

Michael David Wilson (00:03:42): With that said, here it is. It is the story unboxed episode where we dissect funny games with Mackenzie. Kiera on this is horror. Welcome to this is Horror podcast. This is part of the House of Bad Memories podcast weekend. And today we are going to be unboxing funny games, the 1997 version. But if you've seen the 2007 version, you're probably going to get a lot out of this as well because it is essentially a shot by shot remake from the same director Michael Haneke, and joining myself and Bob, we have Mackenzie Kiera. How's it going, Mackenzie?

Mackenzie Kiera (00:04:35): It's going Michael, how are you guys?

Michael David Wilson (00:04:38): Yeah, it's going. Has been pretty much my answer to that for the last three years. It has been something, it has been quite the turbulent and tumultuous ride, and it was kind of been a period of my life that I never asked for, but the universe handed it to me anyway, and sometimes that's the way it goes.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:05:06): Yeah, it's very true. It's been so long since I've spoken with you guys, but it still feels absolutely natural to be sitting here with you both, so it's really wonderful and thanks for having me on. It's really great to be back.

Michael David Wilson (00:05:21): Yeah, yeah, it has been far too long, in fact, and I mean, I'm not sure how long it has been, but I feel a couple of years at least. Yeah, 2020 is more than a couple of years. I'm not Paul Tremble, but I can tell you that one.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:05:43): So

Michael David Wilson (00:05:43): What have you been doing in that time? We spoke with you, I believe the last time. Was it for their watching event?

Mackenzie Kiera (00:05:55): I think it was for their watching. And then you guys were kind enough also to have me on when my book dropped, which was August, 2020. So I'm not sure where all of that lands, but I know that I spoke with you guys around there and then then with the launch of your other book, with the launch of your book.

Michael David Wilson (00:06:17): Yes, yes, yes. So we had August, 2020 for the deep dive Mackenzie edition of this is, and then it was October Halloween watching. So goodness. What have been some of the biggest changes for you both personally and professionally in the last three years?

Mackenzie Kiera (00:06:43): Honestly, it has been a lot of businesses. So my husband during, he was one of the folks that was kind of sent home during the lockdown, and so when everything kind of started to open back up, he said to me, I hated my job. I don't want to go back. I said, okay, what's your plan? And he's like, I think I want to open up a car business. And that's what he has done. He has this whole business where we have, he details cars, he washes cars. But yeah, so he opened that and that became kind of consuming.

(00:07:33): I started up my own business here at home, which has been just editing. So now here I am editing books. I edit short stories, query letters, synopsis, really anything with words on it. I have two book coaching clients at the moment. So that's kind of what I end up doing as a creative outlet because all day it's either go with my husband's new business or with my full-time job, a professor at the university also. And so that's kind of what I have been up to. It has been two years now, knock on wood in December, and it's been going great. I'm really happy with it. It's something that I really started doing kind of at the tail end of graduate school and at the beginning of Ladies of the Fright, I want to say. And it took me a long time to realise that while I loved the people that I was working with, it was the people and the book. I really love being in books. And so the more books people were able to give me to work with, the better I felt. And so after doing just really just some beta reading and some developmental edits for friends, I kind of closed the gap and was like, I think it's a business now. So that's what it's become. It has really taken on a, it's an animal, it's got wheels and everything. So it's been so much fun and I love it.

Michael David Wilson (00:09:04): And if people are listening and they thought they were coming here for the funny games analysis, but they're like, goddammit, I've got a story or a novel that needs editing. Are you open for new clients

Mackenzie Kiera (00:09:18): Right now? I am, but it's a little bit strict as I can only take one large project a month. So it really does depend on how quickly you need it done. As of right now, like I said, I have the two book coaching clients, so it is tough. It's like I can really only take on one other book at a time, but if you've got a short story, hit me. I do all of it. I do line editing, I do copy editing, I do developmental editing. We can even just have a talk about it.

Michael David Wilson (00:09:47): And how can they get in touch

Mackenzie Kiera (00:09:49): With Mackenzie Kiera edits.com. And my email is also how I tend to respond to things. That's Mackenzie Kiera twenty2@gmail.com. Thanks, Michael.

Michael David Wilson (00:10:01): Yeah, no worries. And let's hope

(00:10:05): That the bots don't scrape that email. You'll be able to tell if it's a bot or a real human contacting you about edits. And if it's a human and you think it's a bot, then that's probably an editorial project that will require too much work. So nevermind. But I mean, yeah, you've beta read a number of things for Bob, and I mean, I've said before, but I mean your feedback, it is precise. It's at times brutal, but at the same time, it almost sounds like a paradox. It's like you are brutal, but you are also kind and understanding. So it's the perfect combination. So I mean, Mackenzie will not bullshit you with her feedback, but at the same time, it's like she's not going to kind of leave you in that hole not knowing how to get out. She might even reach your handout if you're lucky. So if you've got a story that needs editing and you think Mackenzie would be a good fit, and why on earth would she not, then get in touch.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:11:21): Thank you.

Michael David Wilson (00:11:22): Okay. Well, not even a sponsored or kind of advertising part of the show,

Mackenzie Kiera (00:11:30): Right?

Michael David Wilson (00:11:31): That's just how that goes. But I mean, you said that you are a professor at the university, so what does that entail at the moment? Indeed, what subject are you a professor in?

Mackenzie Kiera (00:11:44): It's professional communications, and so I kind of run a department. It's tricky because an online university, and so I help run a department where we look at students' writing. And the reason why that's really important right now is because we have a lot of students who are multilanguage learners, and these are things that where AI really can't help us out very much because as of right now, AI can't tell the difference between a multilanguage learner and someone who's frankly using something to cheat. And so it really does take human eyes to figure out which students need the most help. So it's sort of like a glorified writing centre, if you will.

Michael David Wilson (00:12:24): And are you doing that kind of full-time as well?

Mackenzie Kiera (00:12:29): It's a hundred percent. Yeah, that is 100%. So yeah, the businesses at night, and then for pure joy, I'm back to subbing at preschool. That is for my joy. I was in the house too much, and so now I'm with little kids again a couple days a week, and I'd love it.

Michael David Wilson (00:12:50): I'm just wondering, logistically, how are you subbing your preschool? It's like you've got two full-time jobs. Where is this time? Have you unlocked away to turn 24 hours into 30? When does that fit in? I

Mackenzie Kiera (00:13:04): Have, yeah. No, I don't sleep.

(00:13:10): I just don't sleep. And that works out okay. Honestly, I've always been happiest when I have a lot of different things going on, and I as a person feel more comfortable if all of my money isn't coming from just one job, I feel better, especially in just today's world. If it's like, oh, a little comes from here, and then the trunk comes from here, and then a little bit more comes from over here, that just makes me feel better. And I genuinely like being around people. And with the online university where I'm working with the department, our interaction with students is very limited. We don't really get to form a bond with our students. And that is something that I'd really missed. It was a great job while my son was tiny and at home with me, but he's bigger. He's in transitional kindergarten right now, and so it's like, okay, it's time for me to go and find those human bonds again.

Michael David Wilson (00:14:05): Yeah. And where does your writing fit into all of this? Are you still writing? You're going

Mackenzie Kiera (00:14:14): To laugh at me. I write at the gym, so I'll go to the gym to work out, and then I'll work out for 45 minutes, and then I'll take a half hour to pump out some words. And that's how I've, I've just time managed Michael. It's okay. You look concerned.

Michael David Wilson (00:14:34): No, when you said I was going to laugh, I thought maybe you were going to be between sets. Maybe you take a kind of five, five minute break and it's like, then you write a scene, then you do another set. I mean, to me, that would be pretty efficient. Actually.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:14:55): No, I'm somehow managing to, it's a juggling act, but I'm somehow managing to do all of it. I, I don't think I'm letting anyone down. If they are, they'll come after me. But yeah, I wrote, since my other book's released, I wrote another book that no one seems to except me. And so that's all right. So I'm working on something else. I just had a short story published over at The Kelp, and it's a story where babies aren't born. They kind of become, and they become from the mother's heart. So the hearts get taken out of the mother's bodies and we watch the baby kind of start to come from the heart, but of course it needs a sacrifice of blood. Of course it does. Yeah. So it's kind of like a rip on Little Shop of Horrors plus Night Bitch. Did you guys read Night Bitch? That was good.

Michael David Wilson (00:15:50): No, no, I've heard of it because how do you see that title and not remember it? But I haven't read it, so I guess that is a recommendation.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:16:00): It is solidly. It's so good.

Michael David Wilson (00:16:03): Okay, well, I'll read it soon. Not right now. That would be uninteresting for people watching an even more uninteresting for people listening. But yeah, nightmare.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:16:17): That's a good one. Yeah, Rachel Yoder, I think I'm getting the name right. It's been a long time since I looked at it, but yeah, Rachel Yoder.

Michael David Wilson (00:16:23): Yeah. And you said that you wrote another book, but nobody seems to be into it, but one theme and something that we've repeated throughout this weekend because it just seems to keep coming up, but I find you win at writing if you have joy in the pursuit of writing. So if you enjoyed it at the moment that you were doing it, then you already won. Now of course, we hope that some people will like it, and I'm sure that there is an audience for it, but you just haven't found that audience yet. But even if we wrote something and it doesn't get published, it doesn't have an audience. If we enjoyed the pursuit of writing the act of doing it, then we won anyway. Everything else is a bonus.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:17:16): Absolutely. I agree with that so much. I was in a place where I needed to write that book desperately. I think I wrote that book just at the tail end of the lockdown. And so just deep depression. And so that kind of came out of a really good place artistically of where you just are sort of barfing out all of the emotions and getting rid of it all. And so maybe that's why no one likes the book but me.

Michael David Wilson (00:17:41): And in terms of nobody liking it, who has seen it, I mean, you don't have to specifically name them, but I mean Beta Readers, is it publishers? Is it editors?

Mackenzie Kiera (00:17:53): No, no, no. Readers all seemed to genuinely like it and had very little for me to fix, which is always the confusing thing. So no publishers specifically did not like it. They wanted massive changes, and I just didn't want it. And that's part of my own issue is I was like, no, I have a vision for this and maybe it'll be famous when I'm dead, so I'm going to hold onto it for a little bit. And that is why you can't edit your own work because you end up like this.

Michael David Wilson (00:18:21): Yeah, I mean, when I get feedback on work, I decide, okay, what do I want to listen to and what do I feel like, no, that goes against my vision or against the idea that I had for the story. So I think part of being a writer is almost curating the feedback that you get. So I mean, at the moment, I've sent my story, daddy's Boy, which I'm pitching as kind of greasy Strangler, meets the Joe a Lansdale heist novel as if told in Guy Rich's Incompetent Britain. And I've got a variety of feedback, and I think the more an issue comes up, the more it's like, okay, well, that might be something worth paying attention to. But then I also have to look at, well, who's the audience for this book? Or what is it that I wanted to do with it? This one is definitely my most comedic book.

(00:19:29): So I think there are some people who they gravitate more towards dark horror and just the comedic spicing as it were, is too much for them. And then it's like, well, do I want to reign that in a little bit and make it, I guess tonally more similar to House of Bad Memories, which seems to be getting a really good reception at the moment, or do I just want it to be a comedic book? And then, yeah, I've got that kind of dilemma. And I mean, the answer at the moment is I'll reign it in a little bit, a little bit, but it's still going to be the most comedic one. And yeah, I think it's just curating that feedback, deciding what works for you doesn't, again, something that I've tried out this weekend is like Neil Gaiman's advice, which I think is hugely vital.

(00:20:30): If somebody tells you a problem that needs to be fixed and listen to them, if they tell you how to fix it, then I mean, this is all a rather long-winded way of saying if you believe in that novel, that book and the vision, and you are happy with it, I would consider, if you can't find a press, I would seriously look at like, well, do you want to independently put this out if it's a story you believe in? And I said, when I was talking to Josh Malman, the thing is, because I know that writing is a lifelong pursuit, it's liberating in a way because I don't even care that much if I put a book out and people don't like that one, or it's not considered a success because it's like, oh, well, there's another 20 stories coming in the next decade, let's say.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:21:27): Exactly. And I think that's the exact right place to be in just spiritually with writing is like, oh, you didn't like this one? Okay, well, hold on. Let me just get the rest out of here real quick. And if you like any of these, if the story wants to come out, it has to come out and sometimes it's just going to be for you. And that's kind of the good and the bad truth. It's like, do it. Absolutely write it down. And if you are the only audience for that book, how did you feel writing it? And let's see what else you're going to write afterwards. Always the next step. It's like, this was a step. What's the next one?

Michael David Wilson (00:22:09): Yeah, so I mean, as I say, I think if you've got a load of readers that responded positively to it, then yeah, just because it's got some rejections, don't take that as just isn't going to be in the world. You get it in the world. Oh yeah. You drag it into the world if you have to. It'll happen

Mackenzie Kiera (00:22:31): Kicking

Michael David Wilson (00:22:31): And screaming.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:22:32): Oh, it'll totally happen. Honestly, I am really, really, I'm waiting for its time. It'll happen. I'm waiting for a little bit more of my time because as I'm saying, oh, I'm doing this and this and this and this, truly, I have run out of space in my brain to be like, okay, now I'm going to self-publish this book. How am I going to do that? It's like, that's too many. That's too much. And so it is on the back burner. It does have to wait, but there are other things that I'll toss out into the world until that happens, until I have a little more spring space for it.

Michael David Wilson (00:23:07): All right. Well, let's jump into the unboxing of Funny games. Yeah, I mean, it used to be that with the unboxing that Bob and I would go through scene by scene, but recently we've kind of mixed it up a little bit, I suppose, because of the time that it takes to go through every scene. So we are just going to jump around and we're going to see what happens. But I like to talk about story lessons, takeaways, things we like, things we would perhaps change about it. But I think to begin with, I mean, I take it Mackenzie, that this is the first time that you've watched Funny Games.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:23:53): It is. Yeah. This was the first time for me, so it was a ride. Yeah,

Michael David Wilson (00:24:01): Yeah. Now, how about you, Bob? Was this the first time

Bob Pastorella (00:24:05): I watched it for the first time yesterday?

Michael David Wilson (00:24:07): Oh

Mackenzie Kiera (00:24:08): Yeah, me Too.

Bob Pastorella (00:24:10): Cartoon Channel.

Michael David Wilson (00:24:12): So this unboxing came about because I asked Mackenzie, do you want to unbox funny games or do you want to unbox this as England? Those are two of the comp titles for House of Bad Memories. So you see, we're tenuously weaving that into the Launch Weekend House of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson. You can buy it in House Cemetery Gates Media. And

(00:24:43): I said to Mackenzie, if you want a kind of lighter watch, then Funny Games is probably the movie for you. I had not watched Funny Games in a very long time when I sent that email, and when I rewatched it, I thought, this is not as light as I remember it being. And I think the reason for that is there's another movie called Keep Frills that has Pat Heal, and they've kind of got similar plots. And I think in my mind, I'd melded funny games and Cheap Frills together and imagined that funny games had the kind of lighter tone that Cheap Frills does. It does not all, oh, so this is England or Funny games. It was going to be a dark, it was going to be a dark watch. And I do wonder because the first time I watched Funny games, I mean, I can't remember exactly when, but well over a decade ago, I wasn't a parent.

(00:25:57): And I do feel that being a parent, it adds another kind of shocking dynamic to proceedings. I mean, I think we've said this before, but since being a parent, there are some films that I'm just so much more uncomfortable in, whereas before, as a teenager and an early twenties, I mean, I could almost watch anything can be pretty unaffected by it, but I guess having a child or having a family, you've then got almost a reference point and you can empathise more, I feel generally as well, particularly if we're living in the right way, we get more empathetic. We get older anyway. So anyway, let's just jump into initial impressions. As you say, you've both watched it for the first time, so I don't even know if you liked the film. So Mackenzie, let's start with you just now. You have experienced funny games. How did you get on with it?

Mackenzie Kiera (00:27:07): It's really funny that you mentioned being a little taken aback like, oh no, I told her that this was going to be lighter. And I was, as you're watching, I'm like halfway through and I'm just like, Michael, that's sick. Fuck. This isn't light.

Michael David Wilson (00:27:25): Particularly that 12 minute scene that kind of makes the grief in hereditary look like a South Park gag basically.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:27:35): Basically. Yeah. So that was kind of my first take was everything. We'll talk about this later too, but going into it, I was thinking, okay, this is actually very Clockwork Orange to me, just kind of the way that everyone is dressed, the general vibe and the way that everyone is speaking in Clockwork Orange. They have an entirely different dialect, but it had the same frivolity to it. It had the same kind of gaslighting frivolity to it where this was someone's game. This was for someone's amusement. But then as we got a little more through it, I started to sort of think like, okay, there's something deeper going on here. And that's why I got really excited for the scene. I mean, I'll say it when he grabs the remote, that's the scene where I thought, this is something different now. This is going to be so interesting to unbox. Yeah, at first I was like, we're just going to unbox a different version of Clockwork Orange. But no, now it is its own beast. Anyway, I'm sorry, Bob, go. I want to hear what Bob thinks.

Bob Pastorella (00:28:48): I wish I would've seen this movie when it first came out. Yeah,

(00:28:53): I think that since I haven't seen it until yesterday, that my experience has been tempered by every other extreme type of film similar to this. And so it's really kind of hard to isolate it, especially compared to some of the stuff that we've had and that I've seen in a way it's very easy to say This was tame in 1997. I probably wouldn't have felt that. I probably would've said, Hey, this was pretty extreme. I immediately got the Kubrick vibe from opening scene. Opening scene reminded me of the Shining, the opening part of when they're travelling, going to the overlook and all that. So I have a feeling that I don't know much about the director. I purposely did not read up anything on it. I wanted to go into this discussion just from the experience of the film, but I could tell that there was definitely some Kubrick there. I didn't really latch onto to the Clockwork Orange thing until I seen the two boys, the two gentlemen and the

Mackenzie Kiera (00:30:17): Gloves,

Bob Pastorella (00:30:18): And the gloves substituting the golf club for the walking sticks. The only thing that was missing was the bowler derbies, and of course the special speak that Alec and his Drs do, which it is been a long time since I read the book, which is a challenge. It is not. It's written in the dialect.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:30:51): Michael would think it's light,

Bob Pastorella (00:30:54): But it's fair. They have their own slang, milk bars, all this kind of stuff. So there wasn't anything really specialised in the language of Peter and Paul other than the game that they were playing. And so to me, I felt like there was a lot that was, a lot of it was on the cuff, but a lot of it was under the cuff, and maybe I just didn't get it. The constant picking calling, I guess I'm going to probably get their names confused, but either Peter or Paul calling him Tubby. So it's like they've known each other for a while, and that's kind of like where I was like, okay, there's a backstory here that we're not seeing at all other than what we know on the surface is that it sounds like they've done this before, just how they get their kicks off of it, with the exception of one scene, which I mean listeners know we're going to about to spoil the fuck out of this for sure. So just kind of, this is how we do these. But when Georgie Junior dies that scene, it's the most violent scene in the whole movie. You don't see it, you hear it, you see the aftermath of it, and it took it to a different level.

(00:32:40): It was to me, I'm trying to put my words into something succinct and it ain't going to work, but the whole concept behind it to me really didn't come into effect until that scene. And it's like, this is violence for violence's sake. And yes, they're showing you violence for violence's sake, somewhat gratuitously gratuitously, but that's the point of the whole film is basically this is showing how violence has pervaded cinema, and so it's pointless. Yeah, there's a backstory. Yeah, they've done this before. This is how they get their kicks, and there's not much more to it than that, and it's just the pointless of it. So to me, that was the deeper meaning in the whole film.

(00:33:43): I'm pretty sure what little bit I've read, because I checked out something on Wikipedia about it, I just want to see who the names of the stars. So you can't avoid reading some stuff and we'll probably get more into this. He basically remade the movie Shot for Shot is he wanted to examine that a decade later. He wanted to say, Hey, what does violence look like now 10 years later? What are we doing about it? And he is not talking about violence in film, he's talking about violence in society. So this is not a critique of, Hey, there's too much violence in film. It's a critique on us. It's a critique on we're too violent of a species. And so to me, that's the deeper subtext.

(00:34:35): I felt it was a good film initially after I watched it. My thoughts were, I didn't like it, but I haven't stopped thinking about it. So apparently I like something about it. So I have to be honest that if it's compared to other things, if I sit there and continuously compare it to other things, then I'm going to feel it's tame. But I also, I'm starting to get and understand what the film actually does, if that makes any kind of sense. I know that was like a rambling, coherent Bob's on a tangent and he's pulling back in, but that was my initial impression.

Michael David Wilson (00:35:17): Yeah, it makes so much sense. And you've literally given me about 20 points that I could then just kind of jump off on. So I think as is tradition, I'll start talking. You jump in when I hit on a point that you want to respond to. But I mean, for me, watching this, as I say over a decade later, I think I appreciated it in a way that I hadn't the first time, maybe I was too young and naive, but I realised what a really intelligent film this is. I mean, this is deconstructing the home invasion genre. Of course, there are numerous times when the fourth wall is broken, it's only ever broken by the character Paul. Everything is so deliberately done. And I mean, as we say, this is 97. So this also came out very close to just one year later after Scream, which is another film that one deconstructing the slasher sub-genre. But this breaks the fourth wall in a way that few films do, and particularly films that are bleak. This is not a comedy, despite my memory, confusing it with cheap Frills. This is not funny at all. This is a difficult watch. And so to be able to break the fourth wall, but to still keep the tension that is something masterful. And I mean, they're always teasing us and they're showing us the expectations, and then they're inverting it nearly at every single moment.

(00:37:17): Bob has said numerous times that you could perceive this as tame. I totally understand where that's coming from, but I actually think it's the opposite. And they're kind of doing a less is more thing. They don't need to show you the sun getting eviscerated because seeing the aftermath is even more powerful, and it is masterful in the way that it plays with sound. Like you hear that, you hear a stabbing the screams, as I said before, they really do rival the screams in like Midsummer. I had midsummer, the opening sequence was one of the most harrowing screams on scene, but rewatching this, it's like any scream from Georgie Jr. Panicking to the absolute grief whale in the 12 minute single shock aftermath of his death from the husband and his breakdown. It is uncomfortable. It is grief distilled on the screen. But I mean, it's so bizarre too because it's like what universe is this film even taking place in?

(00:38:51): Because obviously Paul is the one who's talking to the camera a lot. But then Peter, he is talking about philosophy and the metaverse and fact and fiction, so self-referential and knowing, and it's like if you just tinkered with something, you would say like, oh, it is too kind of wanky. Or you would if you were British, probably if you're American, you might not call it wanky, but you get the idea. It's too, it would be too pretentious or gratuitous, but it just about works. And I mean also another example of less is more is they get the mother to strip, which now is almost a trope or a cliche or is cheap, but I feel that at the time it wasn't so prevalent. I mean, obviously there was gratuitous nudity and a lot of slashers beforehand, but the expectation is that you're going to see her strip, but you see her face, which makes it even more harrowing.

(00:40:09): And then almost as if that, I don't know, they're just toying with the audience and expectations. There's a scene later where she's changing and her underwear is practically, so it's almost like, ah, this is the bit that would've been titillating. Oh, you don't like it now, do you? After we killed the sun and we've put you through grief. So there's constantly things like that, and I just kind of marvel at how well done This is another thing, and I'll stop in a minute so that one of you can just jump in and respond to some of the things I'm saying. Otherwise, it will be an hour of me just making points. But I was thinking that this works as an Austrian film set in 1997, but it was remade with English language speaking actors. I believe in America. I'm not sure that remaking it as a shot by shot remake actually works if you just think about the story because the mother and the father, when the invasion happens, they're very, very passive.

(00:41:33): I'm just not sure that I believe that an American family is going to be like that. They're going to get the goddamn gun out and march you out of the fucking house, out of the lake house. So I think even though, yeah, we're saying this is a shot by shot remake, it'll be harder to suspend disbelief, actually. And I feel that there would've been a confrontation way earlier on. It would be like, get the fuck out of the lake house. It takes a certain personality to actually go through the whole egg ordeal anyway, but I mean, I guess that we are primarily unboxing the 97 version. But yeah, I just feel there are too many things. You said it 10 years later, and you just think of the atmosphere and the hostility in America there too. I don't see it really working.

(00:42:45): Another interesting thing in terms of the names, and I'm sure that you both, well, of course you would've picked up on it, but there's confusion too because not only are they, Peter and Paul, obviously two of Jesus's apostles, so I don't really for a minute believe that that is actually their name, but then sometimes they call each other Tom and Jerry Beavers and Butthead. So it's like we could be any two people. Another layer I found out that Anna and George Michael Ucky in nine of his films is called his protagonist, Anna and George. So there's almost like another layer that it could happen to anyone. It almost doesn't matter what their names are, but I got more to say about this, but let me take a briefer and see what you would like to respond to.

Bob Pastorella (00:43:45): Well see if the movie was made today, then it would still be called funny games. It would be a lot different. It would be one of those situations where the tables would be turned. And so to me it's like, okay, I was thinking about this. If you made the movie today, it would be a little bit different. It would not have the same approach. You couldn't do it shot by shot because it wouldn't make any sense in today's society. You'd have to show these guys get away with one of these invasions, and then they go to the next house and it's the wrong house.

(00:44:29): You could probably, it's one of those movies and only because I've seen Don't Breathe, but have Steven Lang play George, and he's trying to keep everything calm and cool and collective. He knows that, Hey, if I don't, then I'm going to have to clean up a mess. I'm going to fuck somebody up then. So it would be a totally different movie at that point right there. The whole rewind thing could be very, very fun. And then you're getting into dark comedy, especially who has control of the remote. So I could see funny games being remade that way for today's audience,

Mackenzie Kiera (00:45:21): Or even in a play that would be in a very interesting play.

Bob Pastorella (00:45:25): Oh yeah, definitely. And I can see that because the rewind thing is basically if you did it in a play, you could just have all the players just stop, not even make a move. And if somebody says, I'm just going to rewind this, and then they would go back to saying the lines previously, but then the action would be a little bit different. And so they'd have to stop it right before something like catastrophic happened and go, no, no, no, we're not going to do this. We're going to re rewind it right now. Then it would even make any sound effects. Everyone just stops and they rewind and then they go back through the lines and they change to action. So yeah, it could be a very interesting play, but to me that would be like if you wanted to remake this movie again, that's how you would do it. And it would definitely be a dark comedy at that point, because there's a lot of fun that you can have with the remote concept.

(00:46:29): To me, I thought breaking the third wall was handled. I mean, the fourth wall was handled very subtly, and I liked that approach. It to me, it was very, you didn't know when it was going to come, but after the first couple of times, you kind of knew it wasn't as subtle as Blazing Saddles. When Harvey Carmen goes, why am I asking you? So that was because that came out of Left Field, but it was perfect. It was one of those, I'm going to break the fourth wall and I'm going to do it, and we're going to do it big time later, but this time I'm showing you that this is actually just a movie. I don't feel that what we were watching with Funny games was just a movie. There was something else going on, and I'm going to throw it out there. It was something cosmic going on, unexplainable. And to me, that's why I can't stop thinking about it because there's no way to explain that scenario. Something else was going on. It leans to weird. It leans to horror.

Mackenzie Kiera (00:47:47): Yeah, I would completely agree with that. The way that he screams, where's the remote? That right there was, it almost felt like there was a time limit too. It's like, where's the remote? And then he scrambles trying to search for it. It's like if this is your show, your movie and you're running it, you're not scrambling, especially if you're these dudes, you're going to kind of walk over and be like, all right, shit, here we go. But no, he panics. We see him panic. The only time he loses his cool the entire movie, or we see any emotion is when something goes wrong. So that was very interesting to me. And yes, to answer your question, for most American households, my husband and I are total pacifist, but even if this sort of thing were to happen on my quiet little street, it is a lot the, what's the tremors line? It's a broke into the wrong goddamn rec room. It's like, yeah, I can't speak for everyone out there, but yeah, yeah.

Michael David Wilson (00:48:59): I mean, they try to anticipate or give a reason for them having their guard down. And I guess that subtle introduction beforehand that it's like, look, they're meant to be friends of their friends, so then you're going to be a little bit more lenient. I mean, you're going to think what kind of a bloody dickhead is my friend friends with? But yeah, you might let them get away with some stuff. But at the point where it's like, look, you asked for the eggs got to go. I offered to wrap them. You dropped them. You ain't getting any more goddamn eggs. What the fuck is wrong with you?

Mackenzie Kiera (00:49:44): I had a question for you guys too. So through the movie, there's a theme that I was seeing, and I wanted to know what your thoughts were on it. The wife, Anna, she asks these guys to go. They don't, obviously, right? Husband comes in and she says, kick them out. He doesn't. He's like, whoa, whoa, whoa. What's going on here? And the guys are like, your wife. She's totally crazy. He still doesn't kick them out. He's like, what'd you do, babe? And so we see that play out where she's ready to tear his head off, but not in front of people. It's like you can almost see the actress did such a great job. You can almost see her kind of stuff that back in and be like, we are going to talk about this later motherfucker. Or I can't even believe this shit is happening right now.

(00:50:41): That's kind of where I see her. And that was truly the last chance. They had to do some damage to these guys. The husband still had, he was older, but he still had both his legs. That was the last moment where they could have really changed it, where he could have thrown them out and they could have beaten the ever-loving shit out of them just because they were trespassing. Maybe they weren't going to because it was so-and-so's friends. Maybe they weren't going to because they just wanted some eggs. There wasn't a real reason to go to that length. But if he had just listened to her, if they had fought back, what would've happened if he had just listened to her and been like, oh, something bad must have happened. Yeah, get the fuck out of my house. What does that look like if he actually listened to his wife and then we see it later where he apologises. Right. Did you guys see all of this too?

Michael David Wilson (00:51:36): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there's so much to respond to hear as well. I mean, goodness, there's so much that I'm almost finding myself tongue tied. Where do we go from here? I mean, if your wife, girlfriend is saying they got to go, then they got to go. You don't start being, hang on a minute, let's have a discussion. I think I'd like to hear the thoughts of this random I've never met in my life. Let me be the arbitrator for this one. But I do wonder, well, in fact, I am pretty sure that, again, you couldn't do that in 2023. And I do just wonder if in 1997 and in Austria, I mean, it was almost certainly a more sexist and patriarchal society than it is now. Obviously people know me. I'm not saying, Hey, patriarchy is over. Now, sexism doesn't exist. It still does. But I feel it was almost more accepted then. And it's like if somebody says like, oh, your wife is out of control. You have to be like, whoa, settle down, darling.

(00:53:04): But I mean, it was obvious that Michael Haneke, the director, knows that this is bullshit because the woman, Anna, she is the only strung one in that family. She's calling the sharks, not just with trying to fight off Peter Paul, but in terms of running the household, calling people, organising everything, George is about as spineless sympathetic as they come, to be quite honest. But for me, it's like, no, you kick them out. You tell them that they've got to go now. Yeah, I'm trying to run this through. If this actually happens to me, yeah, I'm not going to pick up a golf club and hit them before they've attempted to attack me. It's like, that isn't going to play out very well if the cops show up. It's like, well, you smacked him in the head with the golf club, but he just wanted some

Mackenzie Kiera (00:54:07): Eggs. Why did you hit him in the head with the golf club? Yeah,

Michael David Wilson (00:54:12): But if they attack you, then at that point it becomes fair game. I mean, even when, and this is clearly intentional, even when George attacks him, it just gives him a little slap on the face. It's like the weakest attack that was possible. So just almost emphasising how weak this guy is, it's like if he'd have done nothing, it would arguably have been less weak than to have just done a little slap on the face. But I guess I should let Bob respond to that point because I'm about to jump to something else entirely. So I mean, what was your take on all of this?

Bob Pastorella (00:55:02): Well, to me, that particular scene was a misogynistic power struggle. It was George trying to show some type of masculinity at that point. That's what I saw. And it obviously didn't work. It worked in Peter and Paul's favour because they relied on that expectation to remain in the house. Obviously, the director knew what he was doing and part of the story saying, Hey, this is how they maintain control is because of this power struggle that's kind of lopsided, and that was the impression that I got off of it. Now, if we always tend to compare these things to, Hey, what's going on today? What's happening in the world right now? How is this going to affect us? I know in Texas, and I'm sure it's like this in other states, that if you have people that you do not know that you're not related to, that you're totally not acquainted with that are in your house and they do not leave, you can forcibly remove them from your property. If you hurt them, then they press charges on you. Those charges may or may not stick depending on the level that you go to hurt them, but you can forcibly remove people from your home if you believe that that person is in your house to steal or to cause harm, then from what I've been told, and if I'm wrong, then someone will please correct me, but you can kill them in your house

(00:56:51): If you believe that they have there to cause harm. I believe that's been in effect for a long, long time. I don't know how things are in Austria. I don't live there. I have no idea what their laws are. But these two gentlemen, if I came to the point to where I believed if they were in my house and I believed that they were about to cause me physical harm, I'll fuck 'em up.

Michael David Wilson (00:57:20): So

Bob Pastorella (00:57:20): That would be, if you remade this movie now, it would be a totally different movie because it would not be very realistic, especially showing it there. It would be more realistic to have George take the golf club back and bash somebody and head with it and say, get the fuck out of my house. And so that would probably be what would happen now. But that scene, I mean, to me, that was masterfully done because that's how they got in the house at that point right there. If George would've put in any effort to make him leave, they would've had to go because they would've realise, okay, we don't have the upper hand here. We have to leave.

Michael David Wilson (00:58:11): Yeah.

Bob Pastorella (00:58:13): Does that make sense?

Michael David Wilson (00:58:14): It does. And I'm again thinking about, well, how would this play out in my house, either in Japan or in the uk? And it wouldn't get very far because it's like, don't you dare step into my house uninvited. If you want eggs, you way outside, you're not coming in. What the hell? So I guess you've got not just rural, but lakeside holiday, Austria, and so your guard is down a bit, not just holiday, but this is rich kind of upper class Austria. You don't expect people like that. And I suppose also dressed as if they're here for a little yachting holiday to be like that. But I mean, there was something very uncomfortable. And I dunno if you noticed too, but Peter kept getting nearer to Anna, but they did this weird thing where he was only closer when the camera came back. So you never saw him really move closer towards her.

(00:59:23): But there was something very creepy about that. But yeah, it was difficult at times to suspend disbelief because Anna is on one hand, a very strong, no nonsense person, but then she's letting them get away with that. And as I say, the only justification is her thinking it's her friends friends. But I don't know. There were some limits. I mean, as I say, everything that is done here is done deliberately. Haneke is fucking with us. Part of the funny game is him playing a game with us. He's messing with our expectations and he's deliberately making them make stupid decisions. Perhaps the most frustrating of all is when we see her other friends on the boat, at that point, you could say something subtly, or to be honest, there's three of them on the boat. You could say, this guy is holding me hostage. Get help. Either they can get off the boat and they can beat the shit out of him now, massively outnumbered. Or they can jet off somewhere. They've got a phone, they can alert the authorities. So that was deliberately frustrating

Bob Pastorella (01:00:50): In action. There was another point too, when I was watching a movie probably about right before it started getting really to where it started playing with my emotions that I thought, you know what? I don't really care for rich people. So these pathetic fucking losers get every ounce of pain that they have coming to. They don't know how to do anything for themselves. They going to go, y'all ting and have all this, it's all posh, and you're interfering with our family time, and they're having their friends and things like that. And there was just a part of me that's like after George got hit in the knee, I'm like, you deserve it. You deserve it. You weak. Fuck. That was my initial impression. I can't stop thinking about that. And I have a feeling that Anne, he knew the people were going to feel that way too. And so he stripped that from me when he killed the kid, and I'm like, you fuck, now I care about these people.

(01:01:57): So yeah, I don't know this almost like an interactive movie because I mean, he's forcing you to go through these emotions. And for some people like me, I felt there was a lot of apathy there because I don't relate to those kind of people. I don't fit in with that. If I go to somebody's house who makes a million dollars or a year or something like that, I don't touch shit. I'm going to break it and I'm afford it. So I'm the type of guy who just sits there and goes, oh, no, no, no. A plastic couple will be fine. Thank you. I don't need a glass that costs more than what I made last month. So yeah, that's just me. That's how I am because I'm just not of that world.

Michael David Wilson (01:02:54): Yeah. Yeah. Well, I mean, my personal reaction wasn't as far as to be like when George gets his knee done in good, you deserved it. I don't have hatred for the rich on that level. We're all born into different circumstances. I'm sure that he didn't choose for that to happen, even though he's a man of privilege. But I mean,

Mackenzie Kiera (01:03:27): It felt like inaction was a major theme

Michael David Wilson (01:03:31): Here. Oh, yeah.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:03:33): Just the ability to act. Because if I were to watch this movie again, and I want to, because now I'm doing it now after seeing the remote, it's like now I really need to, and the remake too. I want to see the remake, but I almost want to count how many times someone could have fought back and didn't, because it's not just about not listening to his wife. It's not just about watching these guys come into your house and saying, oh, okay, well you need to go. Sorry. It's like, I'll calm and everything. You gentlemen need to go. I don't remember quite how he says it, but it's something along those lines. And so yeah, just the inaction. It's like it is. Every single scene, someone fails to act until they are really pushed to it, basically until the kid is involved. As soon as the kid gets involved, then we kind of start to see some fight back. And the kid is awesome. Honestly, the saddest part of the movie is when the kid gets it, it's like he's throwing himself at these guys. He is tiny. He is half their size, he is half their weight if that, and he is the one that is animalistic throwing himself at these guys and screaming and clawing. He seems to be the only one who gets it.

(01:04:49): And then he also runs fast. It took Anna so long to run. That was the thing that drove me nuts is there she is blow drying the battery and getting clothes on and stuff. And it's like the way she lives with her husband during that too was like, is this good enough? You, motherfucker. So the kid runs, that's awesome. The kid is stripping off wet clothes and he's climbing up shit. I love the kid. So yeah, he

Bob Pastorella (01:05:14): Found the shotgun. He knew how to use it.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:05:16): He's the only character or the only character that was held hostage out of this family that was like, I'm going to go get them. He was the only one that was on the offence. I liked him. I'm sorry. That was my ran bob. It's like I cared when they killed the kid, but for different reasons, that was the one that was going to get them out of this shit.

Michael David Wilson (01:05:41): And there's so many moments, as you say, where they could have fought back. And it's like even when they were left on their own, I mean, they could have barricaded the house. They could have looked like, what kind of weapons do we have? There's only two of those guys. What can we make that's flammable? Get a hammer. They could have done some damage. Yeah, a

Mackenzie Kiera (01:06:06): Fucking screwdriver. Like something Come on now.

Bob Pastorella (01:06:10): Yeah. It's like it was obvious they were going to come back. And so to me it was like did home alone already come out?

Michael David Wilson (01:06:23): Yeah. Yeah.

Bob Pastorella (01:06:24): Okay.

Michael David Wilson (01:06:25): Home alone was early nineties.

Bob Pastorella (01:06:27): Yeah. So it's like didn't see home alone. Get your house ready. They're coming back. Don't be stupid. They're going to come back because you're a witness. They're not just going to leave. They're playing a funny game with you. They're still doing a funny game. They're not going to leave. Get your house ready, home alone. Your house. To me, that's what I would do. I would home alone, my house, if they left, I'd be like, you know what? I'm a witness. They're coming back. I'm home alone in my house. Worst case scenario is that I accidentally set one of my own booby traps on myself. That's the worst case scenario. Right? Okay. So I get burned with a hot iron, but if they don't come back, and then I would definitely be beating on neighbor's doors. I would do everything I can. I'm going to blow dry a phone. Really?

Mackenzie Kiera (01:07:25): Oh, no, no.

Michael David Wilson (01:07:25): You never heard of a bag of rice, for example.

Bob Pastorella (01:07:30): Yeah.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:07:31): I mean, it's like when they kill the dog, it's like you have set the house on fire when they killed the dog.

Bob Pastorella (01:07:37): Right? Exactly. Yeah. I forgot about that. That would've been once I realised they'd killed the dog.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:07:44): Oh yeah. It's on

Bob Pastorella (01:07:45): It's game over.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:07:48): This is no longer a strange situation. This is a battle now.

Bob Pastorella (01:07:55): They had opportunity. They were unprepared and very passive. And I understand the power that the grief has. They were in shock. Yeah. They never expected this to happen. And basically it paralysed them.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:08:18): Yes. Yeah. I think that's, you hit the nail on the head. I think that's absolutely what that scene is supposed to show is how they almost had to do something mundane because they couldn't think.

Bob Pastorella (01:08:32): Right. But before that, they had ample opportunity.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:08:37): Yes.

Michael David Wilson (01:08:39): Oh yeah. And Bob, when you said that you think there's something cosmic going on, there was something about the way that you said that, and we were talking about roommates and I thought, I want to see not necessarily a remake, because I think this wouldn't be remade. This would be more re-imagined or would be riffing on it. What I really want to see, and what I think would be perfect is Penson and Morehead doing a re-imagining of this, because particularly when you have the cosmic, the time, the being able to rewind, this is so in their wheelhouse. This is the kind of thing that they're playing with and I think they could do it justice and they could create something really interesting. So that is what I want to see.

Bob Pastorella (01:09:35): They'd have to do the rewind scene early. It'd have to be first act and it would've to be like at the previous house where you would establish that you can do this. Yes. So now it's no longer weird.

Michael David Wilson (01:09:48): Obviously they just threw the rewinding and they did it once, but I'm interested in a universe or a film where we explore that. When you rewind, obviously the other guy remembers because he got to counter it, but does everyone, when it's rewound, does everyone remember? Is it just like one person? And then if you are all remembering, then you're going to have the battle for the remote. I can only assume that it was only Paul who had awareness that he'd rewound, because if not, then what's to stop what you realise? That's a feature. Anna's just going to be going for the remote all the time. You don't need to fight anything. You just need to get the remote. You need to rewind as far as you can.

Bob Pastorella (01:10:42): I think that if you did it like that, especially at Benson Moorehead does that to be an observation that if you witness someone use the remote, then you have knowledge that the remote works. It affects other people who don't witness it. So the idea is, is that the remote, and you know about it, let's say that Paul, he knows about the remote. He does it at a point to where something happens and he doesn't like the outcome. So we know about it, but someone else saw it and that person did not die. They were unknown, and now they have awareness of it, and so they're constantly fighting for the remote, which would make everyone else aware that, hey, this remote does something.

Michael David Wilson (01:11:33): What

Bob Pastorella (01:11:33): Does it do? Because fighting for this fucking remote and there's no reason to be fighting for it. Yeah.

Michael David Wilson (01:11:40): I feel as well, it would ultimately have to go to a place where you rewind to a point that you're satisfied with and then you destroy the remote. That has to be the conclusion at some point that you take the remote out. But I mean, as we like to do, just as a hypothetical, imagine you are in Anna's situation, you've killed the guy, then it's rewound, but you have awareness of the remote. If you get the remote, how far are you rewinding? Are you rewinding to just like, okay, Peter is dead, or are you trying to rewind all the way back so that your son isn't dead? Probably with the parental bond or how far can we go? Can you rewind to when they turn up at the lake house, is there a geographical limit to this? Can you just rewind so that you never went to the lake house? That's what I'd want to know too. And yeah, I wonder how far back one would go.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:12:49): Well, and I wonder if that plays into the hurriedness, the way that he says find the remote, because it also doesn't matter which remote. I thought that was very peculiar. It's like, so in any house, can he just use the remote? Is that part of what happens in his world? Not on him. I think that that would also add another level. That's a question to ask the next director who reimagines this is, does he have his own remote or is it any remote?

Michael David Wilson (01:13:15): Yeah. Yeah. If you knew that any remote would work or you would have a remote, why does he have to go to get the remote? It's almost like he has knowledge of it only in that moment. But if Michael Haneke was watching this, it's like he'd probably just be laughing anyway because it's all about messing with you anyway. And it's like just like they don't give any reason as to why they're doing this. It's like you're looking for a deeper meaning. There just was a remote and he could wind back and that's what he did. And obviously I fucked with you because you're talking about it for so long.

Bob Pastorella (01:13:58): To me that and the fact that they've done this before, it seems like that Peter and Paul, or at least Peter is aware, or maybe it's Paul, the one who grabbed the remote. I told you I was going to get their names mixed around. That one's Paul. That's Paul. So Paul, when he grabs the remote, he's aware of this. There's something else that he says when he gives 'em the bet and they talk about the time, and so do you want it? And basically he was like, Hey, let's go ahead and finish the bet. And Peter's like, well, he goes now. No, I think it was Peter was like, Hey, let's just do this now. He's like, no, we haven't reached feature film length.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:14:45): Yes, that's right.

Bob Pastorella (01:14:45): So they are quite aware that they're in a movie. And so to me, that was just another faucet. And I'm like, that's putting a weird fiction spin on this because the remote thing really kind of threw me for a loop. I was like, oh fuck. Well, you can rewind this motherfucker. Really? Only Paul knew about it. And to me, that's cosmic. That's fucking with the universe. But

Mackenzie Kiera (01:15:14): Peter must know it's Paul and Peter, right? Yeah. Tubby. Yeah. Okay. Peter

Bob Pastorella (01:15:20): Tubby, Tubby,

Mackenzie Kiera (01:15:21): Tubby. Peter must know about it too though, because on the boat he is talking about metaphysics and so it's got it. That's almost like, is that a human saying? Why are we here? It's not so much who are these people, but what are these people in that they're in here and they're controlling things, and so did they sneak into a movie and are they killing the characters? We were about to just watch them have a normal family summer vacation and we were just going to go for a real pleasant ride. And then these things, these characters, these entities snuck in somehow and that's what they do.

Bob Pastorella (01:15:58): Yeah, to me. Okay. Yeah, you've hit on something there. It's like funny games was probably another film, and these two guys who are watching this film have entered the film and they're like, oh, well look, there's some neighbours. Well, I mean, of course, yeah. There's the neighbours. We're with them in the film. We're going to make ourselves part of the story and we're going to do what we want to with these characters, and they literally do. So it's like there's another layer that is now becoming evident to me that, and thanks to McKenzie bring this up, that's like, okay, now it's improving my impression of the movie. There

Mackenzie Kiera (01:16:52): Are rules that they have to follow too, the way that the gloves have to stay on, and they ask Paul, the people on the Yachters, whatever we call them, they're like, Hey, aren't you cold in your shorts? And he goes, I have eczema. So I think we can also maybe think that they're dressed inappropriately for where they are for the season possibly right. Now, that being said, I am kind of rethinking this theory because Anna is wearing a sundress, so maybe not, but the way that the gloves are on and the way that he's very conscientious that he has to wear these very small shorts, it's like this is almost what they have to wear. They almost have their own set of rules they have to follow because in none of this, are they concerned about getting caught? So why keep the gloves on? It's their costume, I think. I don't know.

Bob Pastorella (01:17:52): Yeah. I mean, you're hitting on something because you're right, they're not concerned about being caught. Not at all. And matter of fact, I mean, they leave. They fucking leave the house. Yeah.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:18:03): Where do they

Bob Pastorella (01:18:04): Go? Yeah, exactly. Where did they go? And to me, I feel like they basically went outside and made it sound like they were leaving. They went outside and stood around and watched shit unfold and said, okay, this is enough time. We've reached feature film length. They just need time to go. We need to end the story, and we're going to collapse time and make the sun come up so we can take Anna out on a boat. And so yeah, these guys are manipulating, this whole movie's been just a big fucking manipulation. Dammit.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:18:40): Are they bored? That's my next, are they bored with this role that they're playing?

Michael David Wilson (01:18:46): Well, I mean, at some point George asked them, why are you doing this? And the answer is simply, why not?

Mackenzie Kiera (01:18:54): And they get rid of Anna a whole hour early.

Michael David Wilson (01:18:58): Yeah.

Bob Pastorella (01:18:59): Yeah. There's layers in this thing that the more you think about it, the deeper you get.

Michael David Wilson (01:19:11): So I mean, if you were to make this film, or if you were to have made it in 1997, is there actually anything that you would change? For me, for what it is, I think it's pretty tight. We might not a lot of the decisions from the characters, but as a deconstruction of the home invasion movie and for achieving the objectives, it's difficult to find something that I would actually change.

Bob Pastorella (01:19:47): I would agree with that. If it made in 97, considering the state of the world and things like that, the movie, it was not AB title film. This is an auteur doing cinema. That's why I said I wish I'd have seen it then, because it'd been one of those movies that I'd be like, have you seen funny games? I mean, would've probably been become more obsessed with it. It could have tempered me to write something very science, which I usually tend to shy away from because I don't like dealing with those bigger concepts. But seeing that you can handle a bigger concept in a hundred, what is it? 108 minute film? You're asking a lot of questions and you're not providing any answers. You're just showing what happens. I like that.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:20:58): There's something also behind the pillowcase over the boy's head. That's the cover.

Michael David Wilson (01:21:12): Yeah. Yeah. The old gamer kitten in the bag, I believe they call it. Yeah.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:21:18): What do you guys think that is supposed to represent on the cover? Why did they pick that for the cover, or I guess you'd call it the thumbnail or whatever now anyway. Yeah. When you click on the movie,

Bob Pastorella (01:21:34): Well, it's probably the cover that's on the Criterion Edition. And so funny games pulling the wool over your eyes, instead of having your eyes open, he pulled the wool over your eyes.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:21:51): You think it's that easy?

Bob Pastorella (01:21:53): Do you think there's no, I mean, yeah, we watched the film. I think it was pretty easy. I would've probably never watched this film without thinking what it was about until for this, I mean, I'm glad I did.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:22:14): I guess I'm speaking more to the message behind. It's like, is there by picking that where he's blinded this, maybe I'm not saying this very well, but it's like he's blinded and we're right now talking about how characters are possibly part of a different universe almost and have traversed into this film. Do you think that plays into it at all? It feels like there is more going on. The way that it's presented with, I am staring at it right now. It's on prime video, and that's the whole picture is the kid's head is covered in the pillowcase, and then this guy is sitting next to him. And so I just feel like there was something hidden, something hidden in the imagery here to kind of speak about how these two guys don't belong and how we can't see that until a certain point.

Michael David Wilson (01:23:04): This is not something that I've considered up until this point, but I mean, of course, initially they cover his head because his mother is about to strip. And I mean, throughout both Peter and Paul, they try to have this faux politeness. They pretend that they're reasonable. And Paul talks in this typical sociopathic way of, I don't understand what's going on. There's a misunderstanding. We just want eggs. Why are you being unreasonable? Why did he hit me? I'm just your friend. We're on first name basis. What is happening here? So this is another example of pretending that they have some morals or some standards or Oh, it would be inappropriate for him to see his mother dripping. But I wonder too, yeah, it feels like this must be some sort of metaphor that there are things in the film that we are not seeing. We are being shielded to a point.

(01:24:16): Everything isn't as it seems. I mean, that could be kind of part of the explanation. I think too, it's a very iconic and striking image. I mean, there isn't much more, if you think about the film that you could have that would just kind of represent it or be a moment, the only other thing you could do, and it's certainly not going to be as over horror, is have some broken eggs. I feel that that's the only other thing you could do. And so I wonder if marketing considerations came into play as well, is as we say, for quite less is more horror. That is the most overt thing you could do apart from, I don't know, have a television on and a pair of feet and blood splatter on the wall. But I think that would be too overt. Yeah. But it does encapsulate everything that things are being hidden from us.

(01:25:26): We can't see it all. We're kind of captive as well, and we're complicit, even though we're being held there against our will. As I said, the only person who really directly breaks the fourth wall is Paul. But there is one bit where George Jr. The father, he asked, why are you doing this? And just for a moment, there's some ambiguity as to whether, is he talking to Paul or is he talking to us? Why are we continuing to let this happen? Why are we continuing to work? So we are complicit in this to a point. He's asking us for help. We have the remote, we can wind back so that it never happened.

Bob Pastorella (01:26:22): This film is, I knew this was going to be deep, but man, it's like we're getting deep. We're getting into the deepness. There's a lot to this. And now I want to see the remake just to see if there's any, I know it's shot for shot, but I mean, obviously there has to be something different. I mean, have you ever seen a remake?

Michael David Wilson (01:26:45): I don't think that I have, but as I say, it is literally in the same way that quarantine and wreck, it's meant to be shot for shot. But I am interested in watching the remake because obviously this is a film that can benefit from multiple viewings. So if I'm going to view it again, why not view the other version?

Bob Pastorella (01:27:08): Right. Yeah. And plus, what little bit I've read about the remake is that Tim Rod's characters, he plays pretty much the same as the original actor. He doesn't deviate from that. Michael Pitt, I think is in there. He was in Boardwalk Empire. He's really good. And that's another reason why I wanted to see that, because just to see different actors do the same role to see how they actually do it.

Michael David Wilson (01:27:50): Yeah. Yeah. I mean, there were other things that we could talk about. Of course, the soundtrack, the contrast between the orchestral and the kind of extreme metal that really hits you the first time, like, oh, shit. But are there any scenes or are there any specific elements of the story that you want to get into before we wrap up? Is there something that we've missed that you feel it's pertinent we discussed?

Mackenzie Kiera (01:28:24): No, I feel like we really somehow, we really got through a lot. Definitely all of the things that I kind of bookmarked as like, this was odd. I can't wait to talk about this.

Michael David Wilson (01:28:37): Yeah, yeah. Is it the same for you, Bob?

Bob Pastorella (01:28:42): Yeah, pretty much. I mean, I didn't want to go through and do a beat by beat. To me, I think these are a lot funner when we do 'em as a discussion. Like, Hey, this is what I thought was weird about it. And there's a lot going on, and in a way, like I said, if I'm going out on the limb on this, then call me crazy. But I feel like that there was something definitely cosmic in there, a re-Imagining Benson and Morehead Re-imagining of this would be fantastic, even a similar type story, but that's rights and all that kind of stuff. But if it was ever, Hey, we want to remake funny games, and I'd be sending emails to somebody, just two words, Benson, Morehead, Benson Morehead, three words, Benson and Morehead. Dude, dude, just get do it. Trust me. Or maybe they won't do it. They'd be like, nah, we ain't catching that with the 10 football.

Michael David Wilson (01:29:58): Yeah. Well, what about, do you have any story lessons or takeaways, or is this something that perhaps has inspired your own writing or ideas? I'm just wondering, any creative takeaways or possibilities that you have having watched this?

Mackenzie Kiera (01:30:22): That's a tough question because I've thought a lot about the remote scene, and I feel like if this was something that I was editing, if this was something that I was looking at in written form and I had the guy just all of a sudden say, where's the remote? I'd be all over that and be like, is this part of the universe? Do we need to know about this sooner? But then it kind of washes over you and it's like, this is perfect the way that this happened. This is perfect because the confusion that lands is needed for the story, I feel like that hit is necessary. And so while it gave me pause and it kind of freaked out my brain a little bit of, we needed this so much earlier, we needed to know more about the universe. We needed to world build better. That's not the case. This was exactly when it needed to happen. So it's kind of inspired a little bit of chaos almost. It's like, yeah, let this happen 75% of the way through.

Michael David Wilson (01:31:31): Yeah,

Bob Pastorella (01:31:34): I felt the same way. We can sit there and say, what, but the universe has already skewed in this thing because they broken the fourth wall. So Paul has already, he's smirked at us. He's winked at us, he's done. So we don't know the extent of how broken this universe is, how much I feel like this is. It's a home invasion movie, but it's also a movie invasion movie. It's like, these guys have invaded this movie, and the intention was for us to see a different film, but this is the film that we got because these two guys have attacked the film. The

Mackenzie Kiera (01:32:26): Music change in the beginning too. The music change, they hijack. It happens quick.

Bob Pastorella (01:32:32): And so to me, a story takeaway would be, like you said, if you've introduced some subtle weird shit that has gone in there, you can kind of go full throttle weird at 75% and probably not lose your audience, except for those people that's like, well, why did that happen? And then why did this happen? And why is the sky blue and why is that? What does that mean? It's like sometimes weird fucking shit happens. Weird deal.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:33:08): Yeah, it's true. Is that going to be the title of this episode? Sometimes? Weird thinking Shit happens.

Michael David Wilson (01:33:18): Yeah. For me, I'm just a big fan of minimalism, minimalist location minimalist characters. So for me, this is just really inspiring to show how much you can do in such a kind of tight and constrained space. I mean, this is why I'm a big fan of the Hateful Eight. This is why I enjoyed Max Spoofs movie. We Need to Do Something. I love stuff that just shows the possibilities and how deep you can go. I mean, I think sometimes with stories as well, particularly I find with writing, I want to bear it. I want to slip it back to the bare essentials. So to just see that Michael, he made this accomplished story in such a minimalist way that is inspiring for me and makes me think about what can I do with a similarly minimalist set. And I feel that's, it's always been an interest for me.

(01:34:29): It's almost where I started writing. I think I've had some stories and books where I'm branching out a bit more, but I kind of like to go back to that. That's my comfort place. That's a happy horror place for me. These minimalist locations almost plays, as you say, something that could just be set on the stage. So it is inspiration than a specific takeaway, but I'm very glad that we watched this film. I'm very glad that we unboxed it. I think Bob has said numerous times before, when we unboxed something, we pretty much come away liking it even more, or at least having a richer, I can't even say, appreciation for what we've just witnessed. And yeah, I am very impressed with funny games, but it wasn't a light watch, it wasn't a comedy. And I apologise for, oh, if you want a light watch, watch this one. I want

Mackenzie Kiera (01:35:39): To laugh a little.

Michael David Wilson (01:35:41): Yeah, yeah. When I realised I did wonder about sending up a follow-up email, and I don't know, let's just see what happens. Let's see how you react to this.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:35:53): Honestly, now, I cannot wait to read your book if this is one of the comps. So I'm really excited to read House of Bad Memories. Did I get the name right?

Michael David Wilson (01:36:01): You did, yeah. Oh, I'm so

Mackenzie Kiera (01:36:03): Excited. It's going to be great. I know it.

Michael David Wilson (01:36:05): Yeah. And I only sent it to Mackenzie a few days ago. If people are wondering why she hasn't read it. Yeah, I didn't send it. So yeah, I hope you enjoy it. It'll be interesting. Let's see what Mackenzie Kiera says, the group or editor, but also kind so you can't edit this one. I mean, you could try.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:36:29): It's out. I'm just going to tell you. It's great. You'll be like, Hey, what'd you think? I'll be like, it's great. It's perfect. It's out in the world. That's what it needs to be. If it's out in the world, then it's great. And it's perfect.

Michael David Wilson (01:36:42): Yeah, yeah. Alright. Do either of you have any final thoughts and the episode? Yeah,

Mackenzie Kiera (01:36:52): I'm all set.

Michael David Wilson (01:36:55): Thanks

Mackenzie Kiera (01:36:56): For this lighthearted movie. It was really exciting.

Michael David Wilson (01:36:58): Yeah, it was very lighthearted.

Mackenzie Kiera (01:37:04): Thank you for having me on, guys. It's been so wonderful to be here back with you.

Michael David Wilson (01:37:09): Yeah, this has been an absolute pleasure and viewers and listeners catch me and possibly Bob, we haven't actually discussed with, he's in the next episode. I hope he will be, but it's getting a little late for him. So next episode, as part of The House of Bad Memories, this is Horror Podcast weekend is with the audio book narrator Aubrey Parsons. So get ready for that. But until next time, take care of yourselves, be good to one another, read horror, keep on writing, and have a great, great day. Thank you so much for joining us for the Story Unboxed episode on Funny Games with Mackenzie. Kiera, next time we will be chatting to Jason Parin, but if you would like to get that ahead of the crowd, if you would like to get every episode ahead of the crowd, then become our paton at patreon.com/this is Horror.

(01:38:17): Not only do you get early bird access to each and every episode, but you get to submit questions to the interviewee. And coming up shortly, we have the likes of Rachel Harrison, the author of Black Sheep and a Cloud Chapman to name, but two. So go to patreon.com/thiss horror, have a little look at what it is we offer, and if it's a good fit for you, I would love you to join us there. Now, I told you that next episode, we will be chatting to Jason Paj. And Jason Parin has had an interesting journey with TikTok. You see, the first time that we spoke to him, he said that he was a little bit afraid of TikTok. He didn't really know what people did on TikTok, how you could kind of make content that would translate as an author, as an author in his forties. Now, the second time we spoke to him, he had a confession to make.

(01:39:18): Not only had he joined TikTok, but a number of his videos were going viral. And by that I mean he was seeing in excess of a million views. And now if we fast forward to the third conversation, he's taken it to the next level. He is undeniably an influencer on TikTok. He is making money from TikTok. He is possibly the most known writer on TikTok. And so because of that, he kind of inspired me to take another look at TikTok. You see, I have been previously sporadically posting updates to TikTok in the way of clips from this is Horror podcast, the video version. But now I am going to be putting out videos on TikTok hopefully every day. That is what I will aim for. The reality might be that it's every other day, and it's going to depend if I have something useful to say, because I don't want just create so-called content for the sake of it. So if you want to join me over at TikTok, if you want to see what I'm up to, then do follow me. Do follow us. It is at This Is Horror podcast on TikTok, and let me know that you're following me so I can follow you back too. Because I'm not following a lot of writers on TikTok. I want to know who are the people putting out the cutting edge content so that I can see what you're up to. Okay. Before I wrap up a little bit of an advert break,

RJ Bayley (01:40:59): It was as if the video had unzipped my skin, slunk inside my tapered flesh and become one with me.

Bob Pastorella (01:41:08): From the creator of Diss Horror comes a new nightmare for the Digital Age. The Girl in the video by Michael David Wilson. After a teacher receives a weirdly arousing video, his life descends in a paranoia and obsession. More videos follow each containing information no stranger could possibly know, but who's sending them and what do they want? The answers may destroy everything and everyone he loves the Girl. In the video is The Ring Meets Fatal Attraction from iPhone generation. Available now in paperback ebook and Audio House of Bad Memories. The debut novel from Michael David Wilson comes out on Friday the 13th this October via cemetery Gates Media. Denny just wants to be the world's best dad to his baby daughter, but things get messy When he starts hallucinating his estranged abusive stepfather, Frank, then Frank winds up dead and Denny is held hostage by his junkie half Sister, who demands he uncovers the cause of her father's death. Will Denny defeat his demons or be perpetually tortured for refusing to answer impossible questions? Clay McLeod Chapman says, house of Bad memories hit so hard. You'll spit teeth out once you're done reading it. Pre-Order, house of Bad Memories by Michael David Wilson and paperback@cemeterygatesmedia.com or an ebook via Amazon.

Michael David Wilson (01:42:21): Well, that about does it for another episode at this as horror. So I will see you for the conversation with Jason Pargin. But until then, pick up House of Bad Memories by me, Michael David Wilson, if you haven't, and take care of yourselves. Be good to one another, read horror, keep on writing, and have a great, great day.

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