Goodnight Mommy is available to rent or buy now.
Once seen, never forgotten, the Austrian horror masterpiece Goodnight Mommy plays with our notions of innocence, family and paternal love while equally toying with concepts of identity and masks. It pulls, contorts and challenges our perceptions, just as it reminds us of the hidden monsters that lurked just out of view in our childhood. 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, 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. But when their mother (Susanne Wuest) returns home following extensive plastic surgery, both boys find their sense of security turned upside down. After all, their mother’s face is wrapped in bandages; only her eyes and mouth visible. But, even more unnerving for the boys is that their mother’s behaviour appears to have changed. Gone is her easy-going, kind and supportive nature. Instead, she sleeps most of the day and disciplines the boys for any noise they may create.
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The boys escape the fear and sterility of their home by playing in the surrounding Austrian countryside. But, as Elias and Lukas begin to wonder if the woman in their house is really their mother, events start to spin wildly out of control as they seek the truth, no matter the costs.
Filmed on 35-millimetre, Martin Gschlacht’s stunning cinematography provides a deep atmosphere of isolation and sterility. At the same time, the outstanding sound design surrounds us with moments of deathly silence broken only by a sudden jarring noise. Here Severin Fiala and Veronika Franzyou slowly turn up the tension with each scene that passes. Still, nothing can prepare you for the brutal and horrific events of the final act. 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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That’s all I intend to say about this horror masterpiece. This is one film you must experience on your own, and the less you know about the story and its conclusion, the better. But trust me when I say you will never forget this disturbing Austrian gem. And you know what? By the time the credits roll, you may never look at two angelic twins in the same way again!