The film opens with 10 year old twins, Lukas and Ellas, playing in the corn field as they wait for their mother to arrive home from the hospital. As they play we’re introduced to this desolate land, so open and large that it almost feels trapping. As their mother arrives home, the boys run to her room excitedly, however, when they’re greeted with a head shrouded in bandages it’s clear that something isn’t right. There’s something cold and sharp about the mother’s greeting and the twins sense this as soon as they enter her bedroom.
As the mother grows more and more strange; demanding absolute silence in the house and no visitors whatsoever, there’s a cold chill that runs through the air of the film despite the often summery landscape. Lukas, convinced that the woman who returned from the hospital is not his mother, begins to question her actions. As a result we see the mother appear to neglect Lukas. The boys convince themselves that this is a plot to tear the brothers apart, for what is unknown, but they refuse to let this ‘monster’ come between them.
Despite the mother’s efforts, even turning to violence at times, the boys stand strong in their solidarity. Whether it’s playing on their trampoline, exploring the nearby graveyard, collecting cockroaches in a fish tank (which is by far the most revoulting thing that I’ve ever seen) or play fighting the two (played by real life twins) undoubtedly have the perfect chemistry for two boys who have no other children to play with making the film that little bit more realistic. And while it seems sweet and normal at first, as the mother becomes more and more strange, that cold and strange vibe begins to emanate from the kids.
Goodnight Mommy is a master at keeping certain details from the viewer and with co-writers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala telling the story from the boys point of view it’s difficult to believe whether what you’re seeing is true. Especially when it comes to films third act. There’s something about the film that manages to keep you guessing, even though, when looking back, nothing much really happens. There’s a rather sombre tone that echoes a rainy Sunday afternoon, however, there’s also something quite haunting about the film that keeps you interested and wholly invested.
Essentially, the film is about loss. It shows the boys dealing with the loss of what they knew to be their mother; their actions in the entire film are them either trying to keep their minds off their ‘new’ mum, or plot to get their ‘old’ mum back. It’s also mentioned that the boys parents are divorced and with no sign of the father being around or involved the brother’s relationship with one another and how loss effects it really is the centre stone for the movie.
The film’s final act shocks and stuns, hitting us with one last twist that answers questions I’m not sure I had but also leaves us wanting to know more. Overall, Goodnight Mommy is fresh and new for the horror genre. Instead of going for the jumps and scares it takes a smarter approach and does so wonderfully. The film brings a feeling of eeriness while creating a beautiful setting.
Thanks for reading,
all the best,