Goodnight Mommy – Austria, 2014 – overview and reviews

 

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Goodnight Mommy – German: Ich seh, Ich seh (“I See, I See”), UK: Goodnight Mummy – is a 2014 Austrian horror feature film written and directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (The LodgeThe Field Guide to Evil ‘Die Trud’).

Plot:

After undergoing a cosmetic facial surgery, a mother (Susanne Wuest) comes back home to her modern, isolated lakeside house and her ten-year-old twins, Elias and Lukas (Elias and Lukas Schwarz). Her head is swathed in bandages, with only her eyes and mouth visible.

The twins are unnerved with their mother’s appearance and are further taken aback when she begins to exhibit strange behaviour. She pointedly ignores Lukas and appears to only acknowledge Elias in conversation.

Though it is the middle of summer, the mother orders the twins to keep the blinds closed during the day, imposes a strict rule of silence inside the house, and allows them to only play outdoors. The mother also acts cruel and lashes out at Elias physically when he displays mischievous or disobedient acts; something that the boys comment that their mother would never do.

The twins begin to suspect that beneath her bandages, their mother may not be the same person…

Reviews [click links to read more]:

” … everything in this carefully controlled creep-out, gazing into mirrors and peering through shutters and tightly wrapped gauze. When it’s over, even those who have guessed its final twist (because we have seen it before) will immediately want to watch again, if only to check the logic of its shifting points of view.” The New York Times

Goodnight Mommy plays on the nerves with expert cruelty—so much so, actually, that by the time the film belatedly comes clean about the plot secret everyone has already guessed, you’re too pummelled into submission to care. No, the twist isn’t shocking. But the movie around it sure as hell is.” A.V. Club

“Franz and Fiala do a fine job of keeping the audience at arm’s length and – while telling clues are woven into the narrative – the complete picture only emerges once we’ve been subjected (and that is the right word) to an almost unwatchably grisly gear change. The violence is extreme when it comes, but by then it’s been earned.” Sky Movies

Goodnight Mommy has enough to admire in it’s unnerving tale of distrust and disrespect of the parental motherly figure. It’s horror that gets under the skin, a slow burn at times, often uncomfortable. Though as soon as it starts to close in on it’s final act the film, like any good horror film, pushes it’s themes and boundaries and makes you not want to turn away from the screen.” UK Horror Scene

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“It is, accordingly, as classy as the genre gets, preferring unease to jump-scares, and psychosis to spooks. Martin Gschlacht’s stark cinematography adds to an overall sense of dread, and the viewer is often reminded of the similarly chilly terrain explored by the youngsters in Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and Caché.” Irish Times

“The deliberate pacing and moments of cruelty might give the impression of a cold-hearted film, but the significance of what the children are doing and how this situation has been able to manifest is as frightening as the glimpses of visceral bloodshed. This is a potent and disturbing nightmare, with flawless performances and a rich imagination behind its grim façade.” SciFiNow

“Sure, many children are innately creepy, and identical youngsters are vessels for evil pretty much without exception. (It’s called science, people.) But the little rascals in this sleek debut from Austrian duo Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are in a class all their own.” Rolling Stone

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