Michael Haneke's 5 Most Messed Up Films

Charles Graham Dixon

The release of Amour marks the return of one of Europe’s finest working directors, Michael Haneke. Haneke doesn’t make easy, mainstream films though. No, sir. Darkness often pervades the director’s work as he exposes the more twisted aspects of human nature. Here are 5 of the Austrian maestro's darkest films. Which one has creeped you out most?

The Piano Teacher (2001)

This piano teacher has some serious issues; namely repression, sexual deviance and an interest in self-mutilation. Isabelle Huppert is truly amazing in the lead role, and while some scenes can be hard to watch, the film is unmissable. A journey into the mind of one of film’s more messed up characters.

Funny Games  (1997)

OK, so you’re on holiday with your family by the lake and some young holidaymakers come and ask for some eggs. What could go wrong? Well, just about everything actually. This is a Michael Haneke film after all. Forget the American remake, this shocking exploration into sadism, violence and us - the audience - is pure Haneke. Dark, twisted and brilliant.

Cache (Hidden) (2005)

Much like David Lynch’s Lost Highway, Hidden opens with unmarked videotapes arriving at the doorstep of a family’s apartment. The footage on the tapes is of the apartment itself. Unsettling stuff already. Hidden is dark and disturbing and explores familiar Haneke themes of guilt and responsibility and also the difficult relationships between social classes. The dream scenes linger long in the memory.

The White Ribbon (2009)

What’s strange about The White Ribbon is the way it creeps up on you. It begins almost quietly with a character suffering an accident. But then another accident happens, then another and then another. Suddenly, we are dragged into the darkness of a 1914 village where, in fact, there is a hell of a lot of pretty messed up stuff happening and goodness and morality are in short supply.

Code Unknown (2000)

This may be Haneke’s most difficult film. Things are confusing at first as scenes end and new ones begin, seemingly unrelated. But after a while, the pieces of the jigsaw fall into place and what we’re left with is the director’s most political film. It seems pretty angry at times as it deals with urban rage and racial tension- Haneke style. 

Follow Charles on Twitter: @CharlesGD

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