When their mother arrives home after reconstructive surgery, twins Elias and Lukas immediately notice that something is not quite right. With her face completely wrapped in bandages, their mother has become short-tempered and emotionally distant. Soon, the boys begin to suspect that the woman behind the bandages may not be their mother at all, but an intruder intent on destroying them. As paranoia begins to take hold of the boys, they resort to extreme measures to uncover the truth – whatever that may be.
Goodnight Mommy, directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, is not a film for everyone. The intensity builds to a certain point, and then never lets up after that. There are some gruesome moments near the end of the film that will have some people checking out early. However, it is a beautifully shot and strangely moving experience, and the two directors have an excellent handle on mood and atmosphere that adds a haunting element to the entire project.
This is a film of many twists and turns – one of which you should spot early on, if you’re a seasoned horror buff. The pacing is deliberate, allowing us to get to know these characters well enough so that when the ending finally does arrive, it packs a bigger punch.
Goodnight Mommy is a superior psychological horror film, with three powerful performances that should not be missed. As I said earlier, this is not a film that will appeal to everyone. The chilly tone will not sit well with many – think Michael Haneke’s Funny Games meets Robert Mulligan’s The Other – but if you stick with it, you’ll never forget it. That’s for damn sure.