Twin brothers live in a modernist house, surrounded by wilderness and without another person for miles. They live with their mother, whose face is covered in bandages following some sort of unspecified accident which clearly required massive plastic surgery. Not only is she physically changed but her personality is unrecognisable from the mother they knew. She used to read them stories and tuck them in at night. Now she’s abusive to the point of neglect with one of the boys, her whole demeanor changed and sinister.
Goodnight Mommy deliciously plays with expectations, from the trailer to the premise, it’s not quite the film you expect and directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz expertly keep you ensure which direction the film is headed. There’s a particularly neat twist near the end, which horror freaks might see coming a mile off. Nevertheless, figuring it out early on will only add to the foreboding gloom and unease that the film secretes. The conclusion is highly disturbing, with images and actions which manifest and swarm the mind long after the film’s done. The brothers collect cockroaches, the mother eats them in her sleep. It’s that sort of film, but at the same time we’re not dealing with monsters but real people. Or are we? Like the best horror, Goodnight Mommy plays clever, twisted psychological tricks, rather than relying on jump scares. Proceed with caution, because things get rather strange and extremely grisly.
Review by David Rank
Certificate 15 (UK). Running time 100 mins.