When most of us think of horror films, we think of frights, blood and sometimes physically imposing antagonists. However, if and when you see Goodnight Mommy, you’re getting something that’s quite a bit different from the usual mainstream scary movie. Sure, there’s stuff like blood, but it’s not a focal point of the film. There’s also an antagonist of sorts, but that’s harder to explain.
The story seen in this film surrounds twin brothers (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) who welcome their mother (Susanne Wuest) home after she’s gone through some drastic surgery. You would think that this would be a joyous time for the lonely nine-year old duo, but it’s anything but when they notice she’s behaving differently. This causes them to become suspicious as the doubts grow about who she truly is and what’s in store for them.
Goodnight Mommy isn’t your typical film from the horror genre. It’s a technically simple movie that takes it’s time to get where it’s going. When I say that, I don’t mean that it’s a slow-moving kind of picture. The actual pace itself is probably what one would see in the majority of other films, but it tries not to give too much away to early while managing to leave subtle hints along the way.
As you watch, you’re going to be left trying to figure out what’s going on with what isn’t being shown to us while also doing your best to pay attention as closely as possible to what we do see. This in itself is a mind game that for some reason never aggravates you or disrupts your view of the movie in any way. Assuming the tandem who wrote and directed the film did this on purpose, you would have to consider this to be a highly intelligent thing for them to do. Not only does it work for the film, it also helps with keeping viewers engaged.
For myself, coming up with the possibilities of what it all means to the film’s story isn’t too difficult. However, coming to one decisive conclusion in the early going may be close to impossible as you may guess one thing before immediately starting to lean toward another. This helps in adding suspense to everything that’s taking place as you know something’s happening, but you don’t truly know what it is exactly for the most part.
If you take the time to understand this ahead of time, you’ll realize that the three characters who are at the core of the entire aren’t simply characters. As a matter of fact, they can collectively be considered to be the actual story themselves. They drive the film in every aspect, so keeping an eye on them will let you into some of the details that you’re looking for. I doubt they will give you that definitive answers you want at first, but thinking it through afterward, you’ll see what I mean.
I guess because of some of its content, Goodnight Mommy is considered a horror film, but I don’t think it really is. In my opinion, it’s more of a mystery that transforms into a thriller as it moves closer and closer toward its finale. For people who don’t enjoy horror films, this is one that you may be able to watch without getting too afraid even though you can certainly say that it leads us down a disturbing path after a while.
Immediately after I watched it I found myself thinking about it. Not only did I start to put together all of the clues that I had already spotted before the film’s ending, I also gained even more of an appreciation for Goodnight Mommy’s quality and technique. This is a rare feature that has a unique style even though the premise has been done before in a couple of other movies over the years. Based on those factors alone, I can say this is why you should try to see this while you can.
Film Length: 99 minutes
Release Date: September 25, 2015 (U.S.)