Goodnight Mommy is an Austrian horror film from writer director team Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. Identical twins Elias and Lukas play alone in their idyllic and isolated country retreat. They’re awaiting the return of their mother who has been having severe facial reconstruction surgery following a recent accident. Mommy returns and immediately the twins can sense something is wrong.
She’s acting differently, setting new rules requesting total peace, quiet and darkness. Her treatment of the boys is harsh and begins to border on the abusive. The boys suspect she is an imposter and set about finding the truth by taking matters into their own hands with dire consequences.
‘Goodnight Mommy’ is pretty much a three hander between Mommy (Susanne Wuest) and the two boys (Elias and Lukas Schwarz). At a brief Q&A after the screening the directors revealed the twins had never acted before and they’re really great. The whole production is excellent across the board. The film drips in atmosphere thanks to the performances, beautiful cinematography and haunting score/soundscape. It evokes many horror tropes but refuses to give what’s expected. The result is a taught and uneasy experience.
When the tables are turned and Lukas and Elias take their revenge on Mommy, the tale takes a more nasty turn. I’ve sat through all the Saw films and consider myself to have a pretty high tolerance of grim things but one of the last scenes really got me. It just felt real and very dangerous. ‘Goodnight Mommy’ won’t be for everyone, its arthouse style and ambiguous story may frustrate some but I’d recommend you give it a go.
Atmospheric and gripping art house thriller