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Funny frames

By PETER KEOUGH  |  October 15, 2007

Not so with the second episode in the trilogy, BENNY’S VIDEO (1992; MFA: October 14 at 2:45 pm; HFA: October 26 at 7 pm), a prototype of Funny Games, and in some ways a more unsettling version. The teenager of the title (played by the then adolescent Arno Frisch, Paul from Funny Games) seems a typical, spoiled schoolboy who sells drugs during choir practice and videotapes the butchering of a pig at a local farm. His well-to-do dad (played by the victimized father in Funny Games, Ulrich Mühe) is as disdainful as the father in Lemminge who dismisses the younger generation as suicidal vermin. But he still supplies the boy with the latest video equipment.

One weekend while his parents are away, Benny invites a girl he meets at the video store back to his room. He records on cassette the subsequent unpleasant events. These take place outside the frame of Benny’s video screen, and thus just outside a screen within the screen, unseen but audible. That’s horrible enough, but worse yet comes when the tape screens again for an audience and the crime is seen as reflected in the expressions on people’s faces: disgust, fascination, emptiness — and complicity.

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