Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBB.
Austria/Switzerland, 1992. Bernard Lang, Langfilm, Wega Film. Screenplay by Michael Haneke. Cinematography by Christian Berger. Produced by Veit Heiduschka, Bernard Lang. Production Design by Christoph Kanter. Costume Design by Erika Navas. Film Editing by Marie Homolkova.
A sadistic teenager is obsessed with a video he took while visiting a farm, of a pig being shot through the head before becoming fodder for the slaughterhouse. Having stolen the gun featured in the video, he invites a young woman he meets at the mall to come to his house where he then films himself killing her before hiding the body. You think that this is the primary horror of the film, but there’s lots more in store: when the boy’s concerned bourgeois parents (Ulrich Mühe, Angela Winkler) find out everything, their first concern is to hide their son’s misdeeds, even sending him away with his mother on an exotic vacation to get away while dad stays behind and covers things up. Michael Haneke’s twisted morality is, like many of his earlier films, less potent to those who have seen the later brilliance of Cache and The White Ribbon. The disturbances are on the surface for you to view in bright colours, not residing beneath a barely visible, constructed fringe of civility as he developed in the years to come. Still, the acting is pristine and it is a very affecting tale that skewers a privileged society without ever being preachy or simplistic about it.