Monday, October 12, 2015

[Review] Goodnight Mommy

The eerie trailer for the horror film Goodnight Mommy caused quite a stir on the Internet. But given this Austrian film's (limited only) stateside release this month, there was a good chance that a lot of the people that were excited for this wouldn't get to see it unless they're lucky enough to have it playing at a theater near them, or if they make the effort to seek it out online. Turns out, the film itself is less accessible than even some of the acclaimed American indie horrors we've seen recently, and it falls even further on the arthouse side. But of course, that isn't a bad thing

Two young brothers live in a sleek, fairly modern home with their mother (Susanne Wuest). So any old-fashioned dust, creeks, or haunts are thrown out the window here. The mother's face is covered in bandages, donning an appearance reminiscent of the 1960 French-Italian film Eyes Without a Face. The film never outright states it, but we guess she's recovering from plastic surgery.

This moves at very deliberate and quiet pace, but it maintains a creepy atmosphere. The house's blinds are always closed (the mother doesn't want any sunlight to get in), and it seems to be manifesting cockroaches. Darkened eyes and maniacal smiling wounds seep through the mother's bandages, making it even scarier whenever she sneaks up behind the boys when they're not expecting it. And it isn't just her face--she acts strange in general, like she's in some sort of mysterious daze.

Goodnight Mommy carries the type of plot in which, for a while, you don't really know exactly what any of it means or where it's going. So, you just have to sit back and wait for things to happen with the assumption that it's building toward something. And it definitely is. The mother begins acting more and more insane--to the point where the boys don't even think it's their own mom anymore.

In respect to the spirit of the film, I don't want to give away much more. But I will say, Goodnight Mommy patiently amounts to a disturbing and high quality horror film that should certainly be sought out. It doesn't quite pack the substantial wallop of The Babadook or It Follows, but it deserves to be mentioned in that same, uneasy class.


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