In just the last year I have been introduced to well-crafted murder mysteries, with classics like Murder on the Orient Express and Then There Were None, and taken to them like a fish to water. These films combined with my constant searches for good murder documentaries have had the idea of mysteries as well as murder at the forefront of my mind. Then I laid my eyes upon Funhouse that has no intentions of having anything to do with a mystery and instead wants to be a thriller that is a parody of reality shows, which would usually be fine, but suffers from a serious missed opportunity.
How does a celebrity become famous again after the ship has sailed? Or how does a celebrity that has had moderate success become more successful? Well to solve that question eight celebrities, from the famous to the infamous, have chosen to participate in a reality show called Furcas’ House of Fun that is being broadcast online worldwide. After every three days viewer votes will be tallied and the least popular gets sent packing. The last one standing gets five million dollars, but as the blood begins to spill in the now house of horrors the big reward becomes getting to leave alive.
Where the mystery is ruined, is surprisingly in the first few minutes of the film, the person orchestrating the soon-to-be House of Fun is shown already managing some gruesome affairs. While there is nothing wrong with Funhouse choosing a more straightforward approach, there are clear missed opportunities in not keeping the identity a secret. For almost all the film the reality show is hosted by Furcas, a CGI bipedal cartoon panda wearing a crown who cheers at the contestants’ successes as much as their suffering. Having this character just be a malevolent host ends up being stronger than knowing the face behind it.
While Funhouse is successful in parodying the genre it is mocking, from reality shows to influencers, it is raised up and let down by the power of Furcas. His constant mocking at failures and his unceasing enthusiasm in the face of people who are furious and mortified to be locked in this situation is amusing, to say the least. Where it becomes a letdown has been the person behind the screen who just comes across as a spoiled douche who has attended one community college course of philosophy. While this could have worked behind the face of a cartoon panda, it is just loathsome coming out of a human toilet’s mouth.
Midway through Funhouse, I could not deny that this was a well-crafted movie with many enjoyable elements that just couldn’t win me over. Every time I was starting to have fun the film did something frustrating that felt cliched or forced that would take me right out. Take out the needless introduction and the person behind the panda until an appropriate time for the reveal and you have a very captivating thriller parody that is spot on. Worth a watch if you ever wanted a reality show to turn into a cleaner-looking Saw game show.
6 out of 10