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Goodnight Mommy is an exceedingly tense foreign language horror film about 9 year old twins, Lukas (Lukas Schwarz Thorsteinsson) and Elias (Elias Schwarz), whose mother (Susanne Wuest) has just returned home from plastic surgery. Right away something seems wrong; the woman with bandages all over her face doesn’t seem anything like their mother. As the days go on and the boys become more and more certain that this interloper is not their mother they have to decide what to do next. Directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz masterfully build tension throughout and although there is little actually happening, there is so much going on beneath the surface. There are so many different insights to glean from the conversations that take place and all the little nuances throughout. I’ve mentioned before that I really enjoy bare bones plots and this is another great example to add to the list. The storyline is so simple here that all the focus is put on the characters and the creation of atmosphere and suspense. The only people in the film are the brothers and their mother aside from a few side characters that make very brief appearances. This gives these three main characters all the time they need to explore their own circumstances and for us to really get to know them.
The movie takes place in the family’s modern house in Austria surrounded by forests and corn fields. This scenery and the overall locale gives the movie a sense of surrealism and isolation. Aside from the eerie plot and the sinister atmosphere, the overall cinematography is really striking. The landscapes are breathtaking and the shots use them to their best advantage. The camera captures seemingly mundane things from a childlike perspective, making everything seem special and new. Now it may seem from reading this that the whole movie is buildup, anticipation and interesting cinematography. It’s not. When this film finally reaches its climax it truly is terrifying. It’s so hard to tell what will happen next as there are so many different choices that can be made and this movie doesn’t always pick the most obvious ones. Also, be prepared for a good amount of gore and to squirm in your seat. If you came for a horror movie, you will not be disappointed.
Overall, you need to see this film. It’s amazing. There’s so much tension and it has a truly intriguing storyline that will keep you guessing from the very beginning. Lukas and Elias Schwarz are amazing new talents and I hope to see them in other films in the future. This isn’t one that you want to miss.
Melissa is a contributing writer to That Moment In. Check out her Food and DIY Blog The Creative Fox Den.
Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Veronika Franz (screenplay), Severin Fiala (screenplay)
Lukas Schwarz, Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz