Goodnight Mommy is available to rent or buy now.
Once seen, never forgotten, the Austrian horror masterpiece Goodnight Mommy relishes in playing with our notions of innocence, family and paternal love while equally toying with concepts of identity and masks. It pulls, twists and challenges our perceptions, as it reminds us of the hidden monsters that lurked just out of view during our childhood and the ability of all kids to embellish and grow these deadly creatures. In Goodnight Mommy, directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franzyou take us on a deep and dark descent into an inescapable pit of pure psychological and physical horror. Their terrifying journey is complex and delicate, yet full of rampant fear, resulting in one of the most effective social horrors of the past ten years.
Elias and Lukas are two nine-year-old twins living in a sprawling, secluded house in the Austrian countryside. When their mother (Susanne Wuest) returns home following extensive plastic surgery, both boys find their sense of security turned upside down, their mother’s face wrapped in bandages, with only her eyes and mouth visible. But, even more unnerving for the boys is the fact that their mother’s behaviour appears to have changed with her face. Gone is her easy-going, kind and supportive nature, replaced by irritability, discipline and anger.
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The boys escape the fear and sterility of the family home by playing in the surrounding Austrian countryside. But soon, Elias and Lukas begin to discuss whether the woman who now lives in their home is really their mother, and as they convince each other she is not, events start to spin wildly out of control. Filmed on 35-millimetre celluloid, Martin Gschlacht’s stunning cinematography offers a haunting atmosphere of isolation and sterility while the sound design cuts moments of complete silence with sudden jarring noises. Severin Fiala and Veronika Franzyou slowly rachet up the tension with each scene, making you wriggle in your seat before submerging you in a brutal and horrific final act. Here Goodnight Mommy thrives on the devilishly complex web of emotions and feelings it creates, our empathy and compassion uncomfortably twisted alongside our notions of innocence and guilt.
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