Review: ‘Funhouse,’ one could argue, offers neither a house, nor fun

If you’ve got a hankering for pseudo-intellectual drivel with your brutal murders, “Funhouse” … may … be for you?

Eight people famous for being famous go on a sketchy reality show that turns out to be a death trap with millions of viewers. First prize: $5 million. Second prize: You’re murdered. Rather than band together, they watch each other get picked off, one by one, in rigged “challenges.”

Despite its verbose pretensions, “Funhouse” isn’t exactly a dark “Network”-style satire of what drives viewership or how low people will go for fame or even survival. It’s more “Saw,” with its voice-altered puppet master playing sadistic games. It takes the occasional drunken stab at social commentary, but who are we kidding? The “fun” in “Funhouse,” for those with a taste for blood, is in its slasher-movie savagery. (The “house” in “Funhouse” is more of a bunker/low-budget studio.)

Audiences might savor the anticipated schadenfreude of stand-ins for “reality” stars they love to hate being dismembered, but the lack of persuasive character development robs even that twisted joy.

The film would have benefited from a compelling villain rather than its peevish, sneering dude dropping wan witticisms: “It looks like the one-trick pony has finally run out of tricks”; and deep thoughts from the shallow end: “Celebrating mediocrity has become the opiate of the masses.”

There is an enjoyable fight scene and the production design and cinematography of “Funhouse” do what they can with limited resources. One wishes the script hadn’t been the most limited resource of all.


Not rated

Running time: 1 hour, 46 minutes

Playing: Available May 28 on VOD

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