Friday, June 17, 2016

Movie Review - Goodnight Mommy

Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh ich seh) (2015)
Starring Lucas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz, and Susanne Wuest
Directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz
***This film is currently streaming on Amazon Prime***

While I have no qualms about watching foreign movies in the slightest, I will admit that I need to "prepare" to watch them.  Knowing that I'm going to have to read subtitles calls for not starting a movie late at night when I'm winding down or early in the morning when I've just woken up.  So color me surprised when early one morning last week, I turned on Goodnight Mommy and what I had assumed was an Australian film ended up being an Austrian one.  My lack of reading comprehension notwithstanding, I decided to stick it out and this twisted thriller won me over after an admittedly slow start.

With essentially a cast of three, Goodnight Mommy details the story of two twin brothers Lukas and Elias (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) who question whose mother (Susanne Wuest) was in a tragic car accident that led to her face being disfigured.  After undergoing facial cosmetic surgery, she returns home completely bandaged up with a slightly different and more harsh attitude than she had before (perhaps understandable considering the stress and trauma she'd been through).  Unable to see her actual face, the young boys begin to question whether this women is actually their mother or if she is an impostor.

After a very slow burning start, Goodnight Mommy kicks into gear around the forty minute mark and never loses steam.  This is a "horror" film in the broadest sense of the term in that there aren't thrills or scares, but an ever-growing sense of tension, frustration, and nervousness.  Can these young boys create some scheme to get rid of this woman who they genuinely believe has harmed their mother?  Could the woman actually not be their mother?  Directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz had me guessing all the way through, creating an atmosphere of doubt and dread.

That said, upon retrospect, the film has a few plot holes that seem rather egregious -- for starters, I find it really difficult to believe that whoever was taking care of these boys while their mother was in the hospital would suddenly have vanished from their lives as soon as their mother returned home, never stopping in to see how things were going considering the mother still was on quite a bit of bed rest.  Still, with nice performances from the two young leads and a simplistic, but overall enjoyable story, Goodnight Mommy is the type of film that I'm certain Hollywood will remake in the upcoming years.

The RyMickey Rating:  B-

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