Pages Navigation Menu

"No matter where you go, there you are."


Review: Goodnight Mommy


Goodnight Mommy is an Austrian horror movie originally titled “Ich seh ich seh”. Written and directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, the film stars Elias and Lukas Schwarz, and Susanne Wuest.

Elias and Lukas are little boys – twins – who live with their mother in an isolated angular modernist house in the middle of the Austrian countryside. “Mother” (Susanne Wuest) returns from hospital one day, with a heavily bruised and bandaged face. With her big black eyes and the placement of her white bandages giving her a faux ear-to-ear smile, “Mother” now resembles a skull with a rictus grin.

She tells the boys that she needs rest in order to heal, and insists on quiet, knocking, the blinds to be kept closed, and absolutely no visitors. The boys are already on edge because of her face, but their mother has also come home tetchy and strict. At times inordinately cruel, she is suddenly short-tempered and even unexpectedly violent.

This woman doesn’t tally with what the boys remember, or the lady we have heard a tape recording of singing them lullabies. Elias and Lukas begin to worry that something is not right, and, as the film is reluctant to show us her face, and she disposes of all the photographs of herself, so do we.

Massive props must go to Susanne Wuest for her portrayal of “Mother”. Her character’s arc goes from villain to victim, and even when she is being overly harsh to the boys she still retains our sympathy somewhat. A layer of skin beneath this newly mean matriarch, Wuest shows us glimpses of a moderately famous Austrian TV presenter, who after an accident is terrified that she may have lost the looks she has based her career on.

The twins turn on her when they suspect that she has killed a kitten they have been keeping in secret, and as they begin to wage an ever more physical and dangerous campaign against her, she tries to fight back with psychology – especially punishing one brother over the other, and trying to turn them against each other.

The twins, Elias and Lukas, are played by real-life twins Elias and Lukas Schwarz and deliver a matching pair of innocent and eerie performances. When the bro’s actions begin to get physically painful it is very difficult to watch – they are not monsters, they are just kids treating a woman they think is an imposter as they would a fly whose wings they’re pulling off, or a toy soldier being melted with a magnifying glass.

The film is photographed majestically and the sheen adds even more to the anxiety-inducing, at timesFunny Games-esque, mean and awkward vibe. A misjudged visit from some Red Cross chuggers briefly breaks the film’s spell, but Goodnight Mommy is a shocking stunner with a reveal so good you’ll want to watch it again immediately.



Leave a Comment

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *

This site uses Akismet to reduce spam. Learn how your comment data is processed.