Take a Drink: for creepy-ass shadow paintings
Take a Drink: for scenes that don’t seem to be accomplishing much
Take a Drink: whenever these boys do some crazy-dangerous things, like play outside in a hailstorm, and walk close behind farm equipment, choking on dust.
Do a Shot: Austrian children talking about burning books… I can’t fathom a time that has ever happened…
Do a Shot: any time you wish Mommy would just say something… anything to not appear creepy
By: Oberst Von Berauscht (Three Beers) –
After some facial surgery which has left her wearing bandages for an indefinite period, Mommy (Susanne Wuest) comes home to her twin boys Elias (Elias Schwarz) and Lucas (Lukas Schwarz). The boys are not comfortable with the way Mommy looks, and soon start to notice other behaviors in her that they don’t recognize. Soon they begin to doubt that she is their Mommy; however, they are too young to do much about it, so they bide their time and plan a way to get her to reveal her true identity…
Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala, Goodnight Mommy is one of 2015’s most disturbing horror features. Spending much of the early part of the film introducing bits of evidence to either condemn Mommy or to support her case, the film’s big mystery is one that is wisely kept a close secret. This leaves the viewers to wonder whether Mommy is in fact just having a bad time dealing with her surgery (which would explain a few extra mood swings), or alternately that the boys are changed themselves and are in fact the ones who should be watched out for.
The film has some wonderful cinematography, set mostly within the confines of the claustrophobic rooms of their flashy home (Mom’s got a TV career, apparently). The film uses the recurring theme of closing/opening Venetian blinds within the house, to emphasize the ease at which that which is visible can be taken from view.
The three principal cast members all do their part impressively, with Susanne Wuest playing up her confusion for the strange personal questions her children are asking. And yet, Mommy has some secrets she definitely is not letting on to. It does make one pose the question, how can anyone really prove their identity if someone who knows you is already convinced that you are lying about it? What can you say, one way or the other? The child actors Elias and Lucas are at times very empathetic, and at others quite the opposite. It is impossible to get a true bead on them, and when the climax occurs, it presents just as many questions as it answers.
The movie takes its sweet time, with much of the first 3/4ths of the film being used to develop the characters and to creep into the sudden climax. The film runs 100 minutes, and could have been just as impactful, probably more impactful, at 80 minutes. A good amount of the pacing issues could be resolved by some judicious editing of scenes that are simply re-hashing themes already developed. That said, the powerful climax more than makes up for any pacing issues, earning much of the time it took.
The movie’s chief strength is in the unique way it leaves so much ambiguous. The film would have benefited by removing some of the more supernatural aspects, such as a scene where the Mother is seen shaking wildly in the dark, or the numerous cockroach-related moments that were inserted for shock value. They lessen the true horror that lies beneath the core story of Goodnight Mommy, that being regardless of whether Mommy is who she says she is, or the boys themselves are going crazy… you’d be left at the end thinking this:
A deeply disturbing psychological horror film that is sure to frustrate just as many as it satisfies, with a raw ending that is truly unforgettable.