Rated: R for disturbing violent content and some nudity. Reviewed by: Jim Release date: October 23, 2015 Released by: Radius - TWC
Newcomers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala serve up an eerie, deliberate Austrian import (fully subtitled) that may not appeal to all horror aficionados, but makes the most of a crackling, metaphoric scenario. As well as the emotions from recognition and misconception that seems to connect with the best of The Stepford Wives (the original with Katherine Ross) and recent arthouse fare like The Babadook.
Goodnight Mommy has some misdirection in its mutation and the dreaded 'twist' from the duo (who scripted as well) to burn in a rustic setting where most of the action (which turns unnerving and draining at least for more than a few screening attendees) takes place in an ultra-contemporary domicile.
Apparently a television personality (Susanne Wuest) returns after cosmetic surgery and her 'playful' 9-year-old twin sons (Elias and Lukas Schwarz) are questioning her true identity through a swath of gauze. A snappy sadism seeps in the external and internal goings-on of these characters who all seem a bit off-kilter from the start, not least before something otherworldly is felt from a birthmark or scrapbook after the dressing comes off.
A viciously unexpected undertaking (which has that gruesome torture porn quality about it) has enough psychological fantastical familial drama much of the way. Even in its quiet piquancy and dysphoria where contextual insinuation may render a reaction of indifference and pointlessness. Yet, Goodnight Mommy has a palpable dread albeit less than smoothly continuous heightened at least in one case by the inconvenient arrival of two Red Cross relief employees, as well as a beetle-filled jar, a magnifying glass, and superglue. Getting back to that 'twist' (even if movie-buffs caught on to it much earlier than they would have liked)- it really predicates the underpinnings of effectively menacing cinema than what would might seem like a facially procedural gambit.