Benny's Video(1992)(Review)[Foreign Friday]
Austrian filmmaker Michael Haneke became one of my favorite directors when I first saw 'Funny Games' in High School. It's super dark, hyper intelligent screenplay made me feel like an alien for enjoying it - it went against everything modern day filmmakers were attempting to do with cinema, especially with a horror/home invasion film.
Last week I signed up for the Criterion Channel streaming service and was surprised to see so many titles from Haneke that i've never heard of. One of which was 'Benny's Video'.
Benny is just a kid who loves films. He loves them so much that he records them himself. Our film begins with an 8mm shot-by-hand footage of a pig being shot in the head with an air gun at a slaughter house. We are spared no punches as we watch it get dragged, cry, and then get murdered. And then... the film rewinds itself and we watch the entire thing again in slow motion. This is a style that Haneke had shown in Funny Games prior, and it sets up the entire atmosphere for what is to come.
Ultimately, story wise, not a whole lot happens. Benny has no interest in real life, all he does is rent films. One day when he returns his video tapes and grabs a fresh pair, he sees a girl standing outside the store. They spark a conversation and he invites her to his house. When they get there, he shows her the pig film, and then things take a very sudden turn from there.
Without treading into spoiler territory, this film made me extremely uneasy. The ending made me quiver and the slow build up was debatably pungent. At some points, this film made me sick. And at some, I was beginning to lose my own patience - which is almost the meta story being told here. That sometimes the violence we see can be more real then real life, and at points it can be hard to decipher a true difference.
The film starts super strong and then almost drags for the last half hour, but as a whole, this film was quite an experience.
I plan to do more Michael Haneke films in the future, and this was a great reminder to why I enjoy him. 'Funny Games' in my opinion is definitely the more superior film (which I will cover soon), but this one is a great place to start to understand his style.
'Benny's Video' is currently streaming on The Criterion Channel.
'Til Next Time, Mike Cleopatra