Benny spends a lot of time in his room, given money but not attention by his parents, watching rental movies, news reports and homemade movies of his sister’s pyramid-scheme and a family-vacation pig-slaughter. Eventually, inevitably, he invites another girl home and kills her with the pig gun. Parents find out and help Benny hide the evidence. And Benny turns them in!
So apparently Haneke has been making this movie for years. Comfy rich family meets unexpected bursts of violence, shocking them our of their complacency. And we, the audience, who attend Austrian art movies… we are they! Their violence is ours! Or something, I dunno… Senses of Cinema is smarter than me, and has actual Haneke quotes:
Says the three movies just out on video are a trilogy, “reports of the progression of the emotional glaciation of my country”. “My films are intended as polemical statements against the American ‘barrel down’ cinema and its dis-empowerment of the spectator. They are an appeal for a cinema of insistent questions instead of false (because too quick) answers, for clarifying distance in place of violating closeness, for provocation and dialogue instead of consumption and consensus.” Mattias Frey points out echoes of Benny in Wes Bentley’s American Beauty character, which I should’ve thought of myself.