Goodnight Mommy: NZFF Review
A creepy chamber piece in extremis, Goodnight Mommy will unsettle you more than perhaps you are willing to admit.
Writer-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala tell the story of Lukas and Elias, two young twin brothers, who feel their mother is not who they believe her to be when she returns from hospital.
Seemingly uncharacteristically short with one and ignoring the other, this isn't the mother they remember - and the more time passes in their ultra-modern clinical house, the boys suspect things have taken a turn for the worst.
Even if you guess what exactly is going on in Goodnight Mommy (as I did within the first 10 minutes thanks to one piece of dialogue), it makes not a jot of difference. This ultra-suspenseful claustrophobic flick has a way of inveigling itself under your skin as the unsettling and foreboding atmosphere ratchets up the tension, leaving you feeling unfathomably sick in your stomach.
Lukas and Elias Schwarz play the twins as a little something akin to the twins out of The Shining; they're always together, always natural and in the film's final act, incredible. To say more about the film is to spoil the ride (which is a shame given how much there is to talk about after) but needless to say the slow panning shots, quietly rumbling dread and the brilliant use of location (the house alone is like a third character of the film, its ultra-modern edges and interiors shorn of clutter perhaps providing some psychological insight, lurking away in the corners of your mind.
This chiller packs a punch thanks to its denouement and also the clear, almost clinical way it's been shot and structured. (Though one moment involving outsiders really does beggar belief and very nearly costs the film its credence)
Once you know the ending, it makes viewing Goodnight Mommy a different experience and gives rise to potentially playing it back again to spot the clues you missed before - but as well as being a psychologically intense film, it's also tremendously upsetting; its themes and examination of one particular emotion is deeply troubling; however those discussions are best left until daytime, when the sunlight can pierce your mind which has been clouded in fog by the murkier tones painted by Franz and Fiala's mind-games.