I have to admit that I am a total sucker for foreign horror films. I like the fact that they don’t typically follow the American horror template. Films like Dead Alive, Cub, and Haute Tension are perfect examples. Sometimes things get lost in translation and leave us with muddled messes of cinema. Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s film, Goodnight Mommy, has had a tremendous amount of good press. Not to mention, an absolutely amazing trailer to hook you in.
Lukas and Elias are rambunctious twin brothers with acres of land to explore, and a wonderfully playful relationship. However, when their mother returns home from a recent cosmetic surgery, the boys sense a dramatic change in her behavior. Questioning whether she truly is who she says she is or not, the boys put a plan into motion to finally hear the truth.
While this film succeeded in creating a horrifying situation, I can say that I really didn’t find it scary in the traditional sense. We don’t get the jump scares, we don’t get gore, and we don’t get the “nightmare fuel” as promised in trailers and cover art reviews. I think it’s important for me to say that I did not find anything wrong with that. What we did get was a genius marketing campaign to truly sell the film. We get a strong psychological film, which has legs enough to stand on without the aforementioned gore and jump scares.
Goodnight Mommy is not what you are expecting. While it doesn’t take long to catch on, the real terror is not knowing how far the filmmakers are willing to take it. The first half of the film does a fantastic job of establishing the relationship between all three characters and allows you to make judgements of their behavior all on your own. I have to say that the twin brothers Lukas and Elias’ (playing characters of the same name) performances are incredible. It’s obvious the type of bond they have. and they play off of one another every second they share the screen. Although they are twins. they have very specific mannerisms, allowing you to easily pick them apart. Susanne Wuest’s portrayal as “mother” is one of the best performances I have ever seen; She allows the story to mold your opinion of her and question her actions.
In my opinion, this film is nothing short of amazing. Sure, it isn’t what I expected and that sort of threw me off a bit, but once I finished, it I was impressed. This film is not for everyone; I can see how some people might not get into it as much as I did, but I urge you to watch it and form your own opinion.
I give Goodnight Mommy 3.5 hissing cockroaches out of 5.