The film begins with Anna, Georg, their young son, and dog arriving at their lake house. Shortly upon arrival one of their neighbors comes over with two young men named Peter and Paul, who he introduces as friends of his. They soon leave, but then Peter turns back up asking to borrow eggs for their neighbor. From the moment he arrives something seems off. First of all, he’s wearing white gloves. Then he drops the eggs on the ground, as well as knocking the portable phone into a sink full of water. He asks for more eggs and is about to leave when he reenters saying that the dog knocked the eggs out of his hands. This time he is accompanied by Peter, who is also wearing white gloves and soon begins playing with golf clubs and then demands that Peter be given more eggs. The entire scene is really odd as is much of the movie. The constant banter and tone in their voices is quite disorienting as well as unsettling. Eventually Anna demands that the two men leave, and a moment later her husband and son show up from the lake. Again, the game and the banter continue until Paul smashes Georg’s leg with a golf club. It immediately becomes clear that the family is not going anywhere and that Peter and Paul are two very sick individuals.
Peter and Paul continue to torture the family by making them play sick games for amusement, such as, having them bet on whether they think they will still be alive by 9:00am the next day. Paul often addresses the audience by winking, smirking, or asking questions, blurring the line between fiction and reality. He’s the only one who is aware of the audience. Fiction verses reality is an ongoing theme throughout the film. At one point Paul tells Peter that if fiction is observed it becomes something real. Peter though dismisses this notion. Paul also informs the audience that his time schedule for torturing the family is being played out based on audience expectations; though, at times he goes against traditional torture film conventions.
I gave this movie a four star rating, I’m even contemplating higher, but I don’t know if I can recommend this movie to anyone because after watching it I wasn’t sure if I wished I had. There were several moments throughout the film when I felt physically sick. I felt so drawn in and emotionally invested in the victim’s ordeal that at times it was almost like I was no longer watching a movie. Taking Paul’s comments into consideration it is clear that this is what the film wanted to accomplish, and it certainly was successful on me. I felt the lines between fiction and reality very much blur. I felt the victim’s pain like no other movie I’ve ever seen. I’m not an emotional person, but one scene made me cry, and I honestly can’t recall ever crying watching a movie before. The film ended and I sat in the dark for probably ten minutes unable to move, not sure what to think or feel. I will not be able to forget this movie. I still feel unsettled as I write this review.
Regardless of how ill it made me though, I’m still planning on reviewing the American remake of this Austrian film. I feel compelled to see if the remake is as effective. All the actors are very strong in this film, especially Anna, and I’m not sure if others will pull it off as well.