A series of film reviews and opinion pieces from a film student and all round movie lover! Happy reading!
Directed By: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala
Produced By: Ulrich Seidl
Written By: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala
Starring: Susanne Wuest, Lukas Schwartz, Elias Schwartz
Running Time: 99 Minutes
Horror films that posses a psychological edge often make for far more engaging pictures than any found-footage, slasher gore-fest we’re presented with on a weekly basis; this is one of them.
An Austrian picture that took the Internet by storm after “The scariest trailer of all time” was released, Goodnight Mommy (original title, “Ich Seh, Ich Seh”) as a film offers something far different to the trailer.
An eerie, slow-paced and tense thriller with the occasional lapse in momentum, Goodnight Mommy doesn’t outright disappoint, however the execution of the final product isn’t as fulfilling as one would hope from a film with such an intriguing premise.
A pair of twin boys (played by Lukas and Elias Schwartz, of whom they share the name of their respective characters) are ready to welcome their mother home after undergoing a large facial operation that leaves her battered, bruised and wrapped in bandages.
Physically frightening, the boys become unsettled at the sight of their mother, growing increasingly suspicious and cautious as she begins to show signs that she’s not exactly the mother they know and love. What ensues is a suspenseful tale of discovery, torment and misguidedness that includes moments of gruesome imagery and ominous dread.
Structurally, the plodding, elongated nature of the film builds suspense and uneasiness, resulting in a severe distrust for any of the strange, un-relatable characters. Many of the scenes have little to know dialogue, adding to the strangeness of the atmosphere; nothing is as it seems, even if it seems pretty unsettling to begin with.
It would be interesting to see what Goodnight Mommy would be like as a black and white silent picture.
Borrowing from the German expressionist age in some aspects, whist possessing a tone not too dissimilar from an absurdist piece such as 1929’s Un Chien Andalou, Goodnight Mommy seems to be a classic avant-garde piece lost in the wrong time period.
What could have been a love letter to the classics or even something completely unique, the film’s unfulfilling nature seems to boil down to it being in the wrong place at the wrong time.
The concluding portion of the film seems rather misplaced, however it definitely where most of the shocks will emerge from.
Let it be known that Goodnight Mommy is nowhere near as terrifying as the trailer makes it out to be, however regrettably, if you’ve seen the trailer, you have a fairly strong understanding of how the story progresses. The film still has a lot to offer though, even some really intelligent aspects to make you think of viewing it a second time through another set of eyes.
Goodnight Mommy should not be avoided like the plague; with its tense, chilling progression with moments that warrant a jump peppered throughout, it’s a modest foreign horror that utilises the absence of a hero to its benefit to create a surreal, uncomfortable experience for an audience.
Dads, get ready, your kids are going to embrace you like never before after this one…