As the film opens, we find 9 year old twin brothers Elias and Lukas residing in the isolated but picturesque Austrian countryside with their nameless mother (Susanne Wuest) who is recovering from plastic surgery.
Despite their seemingly peaceful and idyllic life, the boys quickly begin to suspect that the scary, bandaged woman in their home is someone…or something other than their mother. Exploiting the deep bond that is unique to twins, the brothers unite to play a dangerous game of cat and mouse with mommy dearest.
What unfolds next is a series of chilling but elegantly stylized scenes that follow the twins as they try to discover who is really beneath the bandages and what has she done with their real mother.
Although the trailer gives the impressing of a run of the mill horror movie, which will undoubtedly have genre fans lining up this fall to see it, what audiences can actually expect from Goodnight Mommy is a film that walks the line between psychological thriller and horror, and which is, in fact, an art house modern horror masterpiece.
Co-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala have created a surreal, sleek and very disturbing world, where nothing seems quite right but it’s impossible to put your finger on what exactly is happening until the film’s final moments roll around.
Shot flawlessly in 35mm, Goodnight Mommy uses silence as its greatest ally, allowing the eerie quiet to enhance the stifling tension that builds steadily with every scene. Adding to the excellent directing and cinematography, Goodnight Mommy also boasts equally superb performances from talented child actors Lukas and Elias Schwartz, whose portrayals of the troubled twins keep the film moving deftly forward even in parts where there is very little dialogue, lighting or even much of anything else happening on screen.
I you’re looking for a film that’s filled with guts and gore and heavy on cheap thrills, you’ve most definitely got the wrong movie. Playing on our most primal fears involving trust and the parent-child bond, Goodnight Mommy is a restrained, well thought out and beautifully constructed art-house horror gem that I anticipate will generate the same hype as last spring’s equally brilliant breakout hit It Follows.
Goodnight Mommy has definitely done its part in raising the genre bar, and I just can’t wait to see what brilliant horrors Franz and Fiala have in store for us in future.
– Felicia Mancini, writing for A Girl’s Guide to Horror