All the world is gasoline, and Eli Roth is the guy who just can’t stop flicking his cigarettes…
So it’s FUNNY GAMES if FUNNY GAMES wasn’t pretentious self-fellating bullshit – color me onboard.
The hook this time is that Roth is (supposedly) dialing back on the gore in favor psychological torment, which I don’t think the radical prospect it’ll likely be treated as by mainstream critics: Roth’s secret has never been his willingness to spill blood, but his willingness to spill it in defiance of audiences’ expectations of narrative “rightness.” The notorious blood-bathing sequence in HOSTEL II isn’t just horrifying because of what’s happening, but because it’s happening completely without reason to the most likable/vulnerable character in the film without even the fig-leaf of “the naughty kids die first” perverse cosmic justice of the FRIDAY THE 13TH or NIGHTMARE cycles. Which, unfortunately, means that French bulldog is probably toast 😦
He’s also insidiously skilled at breaking movie-taboos you don’t realize are taboos until you see them broken: the shots showing the girls’ (apparently?) destroying his wife and childrens’ belongings just to fuck with him are for some reason so much more distrubing conceptually than the torture shots. He’s also delightfully unafraid to follow the story to a logical point without caring if there’s a “bad” message you could take away – it’s easy to imagine a version of this premise framing the home-invaders’ as sort-of righteous (“angy angels of vengeance punishing a suburban patriarch for adulterous Skinemax-fantasy indulgence”) but you can likely count on Roth to stick with his favorite themes of innate human shittiness and evil existing for its own sake.
Either way, we’ll find out whenever Lionsgate decides to release this. I imagine it’s going to be a limited-theatrical/VOD thing like most semi-indie horror these days, but I’d hope the studio who knew a phenomenon when they saw it in the original SAW would understand what they’ve potentially got here. Keanu is very much “back” in the wake of JOHN WICK, and even if Roth’s name doesn’t carry the cache with mainstream audiences it does with horror fans the “Every dude’s fantasy goes baaaaaad!” hook in the trailers could easily turn this into “see it to discuss it” phenomenon like FATAL ATTRACTION (or, more recently, GONE GIRL.)