In the midst of celebrating the Tribeca Film Festival screenings of her shocker MULBERRY STREET, New York-based independent producer Linda Moran of Belladonna Productions chatted with Fango about another upcoming genre movie she was involved in: writer/director Michael Haneke’s upcoming remake of his own acclaimed 1997 Eurochiller FUNNY GAMES. The new movie stars Naomi Watts and Tim Roth as a married couple who, along with their young son, are terrorized by a pair of youthful home invaders (Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet). According to Moran, however, only the faces have changed for this redux. “It is literally a shot-for-shot remake,” she tells Fango, “so we haven’t changed the ending or anything like that.”
That’s good news for fans who remember the ’97 film’s uncompromising approach and finale, and Moran continues, “We actually had blueprints from the house that was used in the original, and we went on a soundstage and built a set that matched those proportions exactly. Then we had to go out and find an exterior that would work as well. We shot in the Hamptons, at Shelter Island and southern Long Island. You’ll probably find that the look will be different; the compositions probably won’t be changed much, but since Darius [SE7EN] Khondji shot it and he’s such a great cinematographer, the images are going to be a little more lush, where the original is really dark-looking.”
Things certainly get dark in a dramatic sense for the helpless family, and Moran praises the resilience of FUNNY GAMES’ cast. “They were incredible,” she says. “It was very hard on the actors; we put them in a room and tortured them for days on end. Michael is very exacting in the way he works, so they were challenged by that idea and came in knowing what they were getting into, and they definitely rose to the challenge. Naomi Watts in particular was just remarkable; she had to get tied up and gagged for real, because Michael didn’t want to fake that—he didn’t want it to read that way on screen. But they were all very good.” Warner Independent Pictures currently has FUNNY GAMES slotted for a January 18, 2008 release.