Certification: New Zealand:R18 | Germany:16 (f) | UK:15 (re-rating) (2006) | Australia:MA | Finland:K-16 | France:-16 | Norway:15 | Sweden:15 | UK:18
# Tartan Video
# Directed by Michael Haneke
# Runtime: 105 min
Reviewed by Dave Kerr
Benny (Arno Frisch) is a strange boy. His respectable middle class parents see that he lacks for nothing. In material terms he is well-off but clearly something, somewhere is not right with this Austrian teenager. There is a terrible emptiness in his soul.
Courtesy of his parents, he has a whole array of expensive video cameras and editing equipment. He is bright but he is neglected. His parents shower him with plenty of material goods but leave him to his own destructive devices. He gradually becomes more withdrawn and distant from them.
The centre of his own video-based world, Benny makes and edits his own home movies. This 14-year old obsesses over a film he made of his grandfather slaughtering a pig. The pig squeals in terror moments before it is pinned down and shot cleanly through the head at point-blank range. Benny obsessively rewinds and replays this dreadful scene – in slow motion – over and over again.
That’s bad enough, but things get worse. While his parents are away he invites home a girl (Ingrid Stassner) he meets in a video shop. They chat, flirt and he shows off to the girl. He shows her his fancy video equipment. They eat pizza and he entertains her with his favourite home movie. She’s fascinated but not impressed so he shows her his prize exhibit: the cattle gun used to kill the pig. He stole it. They argue and he uses it on her.
Seriously injured, she screams in agony. He panics and tries to silence her. He shoots her again and kills her. He then cleans the place up and goes out with his mate for the evening as if nothing had happened. Please God there are not too many youngsters like Benny around today. You wonder, though when so many are left to their own devices by well-off parents who replace affection and time for their children with generous gifts instead. It’s not just ‘feral’ kids from ‘chaotic’ home environments in working class housing estates who can commit dreadful crimes.
Benny’s sociopathic lack of remorse for this dreadful act is shared by his parents when they discover his crime. All they want to do is cover it up. They have no thought for the dead girl or her family as his father discusses chopping up her body to dispose of it while Benny and his mother go off to Egypt on holiday. Benny, though has no gratitude. He has another surprise in store for them.
How does some mother’s beautiful baby grow up into a monster like Anton Chigurh, or in real life, Fred West or Ted Bundy? There may be a clue in this brutal, disturbing film.