Skip to content


Goodnight Mommy

In a bit of dark humor, “Goodnight Mommy” opens with a TV shot of the Von Trapp family singers. By the end, you’ll wonder if someone ought to remake “The Sound of Music” as a creepy horror flick.

“Goodnight Mommy” mines a lot of its ominous feel from its very small cast. Lukas and Elias Schwarz, real life twin brothers, play twin brothers (named Lukas and Elias.) Susanne Wuest plays their mother. Aside from 2 or 3 scenes, all of which are pretty minor, there is no one else in the movie. Their world is small, and terrifying.

The 3 of them live at a peaceful (read: isolated) upscale house in the Austrian countryside. There’s plenty of space for the boys to play outside, amongst cornfields, a bog, and a forest, but no one to play with besides each other. In some ways, the opulent isolation is a callback to Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games.” Never since then has peace and quiet felt so threatening. Anything could happen here, and nobody would know until it’s too late.

Wuest comes home with her face all wrapped in bandages — it’s not until the very end of the film that we begin to understand why — and the boys are startled and unsettled by her appearance. She is brittle and irritable, and she struggles to parent well, often choosing retribution over discipline. The gulf between her and her boys grows wider.  They have a tape recording of their mother singing to them, in a soothing, gentle loving voice. They’re not sure the person underneath the bandages is actually her.

“Goodnight Mommy” is slow-paced, building that ominous, creepy mood scene by scene. It banks on unsettling images — like a cockroach crawling into someone’s mouth, or a dead cat in an aquarium — instead of jump scares. The performance of the two boys is amazing; at first it’s charming, the way they can communicate with a look or a gesture, and then it’s something eerily beyond charming.

Then the film gets really weird. I’m not sure I’ve ever seen a horror flick change gears so smoothly and effectively in its final act — the first thing that comes to mind is “Psycho,” but that film takes a sharp left turn, whereas “Goodnight Mommy” makes a complete U-turn, doubling back over covered ground in a new, and newly horrifying, way.

In an interview with filmcomment.com, the directors (Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala) said that “Goodnight Mommy” is “about power games within families. Today as a single mom raising children you have to be in charge all the time, but the truth is that very often you’re not in charge at all—very often the children are in charge.”  So basically, they’re taking an quotidian fear and uneasiness that I imagine all parents have felt (I certainly have) — that sense of being trapped with these small, often irrational beings — and amplified it to horror movie proportions. In doing so, they’ve tapped into the core of most, maybe all, effective horror – it’s relatable.

 

Be Sociable, Share!

Posted in All Reviews, by Will Krischke.

3 Responses

Stay in touch with the conversation, subscribe to the RSS feed for comments on this post.

  1. I have read so many articles or reviews regarding the blogger
    lovers however this post is really a pleasant piece of writing,
    keep it up.

Continuing the Discussion

  1. Roof Valley repair linked to this post on April 29, 2017

    Roof Valley repair

    Goodnight Mommy – GonnaWatchIt.comGonnaWatchIt.com

  2. 1Healthplace.Net linked to this post on June 18, 2017

    1Healthplace.Net

    Goodnight Mommy – GonnaWatchIt.comGonnaWatchIt.com

Some HTML is OK

(never shared)

or, reply to this post via trackback.