Writer/Director: Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala
Producer: Ulrich Seidl
Cast: Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz
Run Time: 99 minutes
In the heat of the summer lays a lonesome house in the countryside where nine year old twin brothers await their mother’s return. When she comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before and the children start to doubt whether this woman is actually who she says she is. What ensues is a terrifying observational struggle with fatal consequences on par with THE SHINING and DEAD RINGERS.
Horror movies scare me, and not in the fun roller-coaster kind of way. Think big baby. I genuinely get nervous a day before thinking about it. Given the option, I’m a rom-com kind of movie goer. But, every so often, a horror movie peaks my interest and I summon the courage. This week’s courage brought me to Goodnight Mommy. It’s an Austrian film. There are English subtitles.
The premise of the film centers on a small, affluent family, post something bad. The audience can’t immediately tell what bad thing has happened. The opening looks picturesque, eerie and insane. Twin boys (Elias Schwartz and Lukas Schwartz) are playing in a field adjacent to their beautiful house. The creepy insanity comes through immediately. It’s too quiet, too beautiful, too weird, and, then, mom (Susanne Wuest) comes home and her face is completely bandaged-up. Something is off. Something is about to happen. Who can I trust?
Goodnight Mommy takes the audience on a super creepy detective hunt. I usually watch horror movies from between my fingers, but I found myself unable to look away. I felt pretty certain early on that I knew what was causing the insanity. I spent the rest of the movie watching it take its toll, and looking for clues that my guesses about the film were correct.
I think fans of horror will thoroughly enjoy Goodnight Mommy. Above everything, I appreciated the originality. It isn’t overly suspenseful. Nothing is jumping out from behind curtains. It’s methodical and quiet. The film does without the scary musical score. I got the impression that the audience needs time to focus, free of distraction. Let the horror sink in. It’s inescapable.
Don’t let the foreign language keep you from seeing this in theaters. I don’t know how much I read the subtitles. I certainly wasn’t conscious of them. Even without sound, I could have been able to discern what was happening. I think the Schwartz boys will have a big cinematic future. They made Goodnight Mommy one of the finest horror films I have seen in recent memory. Even with my limited horror movie experience, I know it was good because I still shudder when I think about the film.
I hope that a lot of you will make it out to have the bejeezus scared out of you. It’s great for the Halloween season. But this film isn’t for the faint of heart. Some of the imagery is genuinely disturbing. There are a couple scenes I wish I could un-see. Don’t take my word for it. Get creeped-out for yourself when Goodnight Mommy opens in theaters on October 9.