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In the heat of the summer, a lonesome house in the countryside between woods and corn fields, lives nine-year-old twin brothers who are waiting for their mother. When she comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before. The children start to doubt that this woman is actually their mother. It emerges an existential struggle for identity and fundamental trust. Written by
Ulrich Seidl Film
Less Scares but Revels in its Atmospheric Dread and mystique.
Ich seh, Ich seh aka Goodnight Mommy's previews were all over the internet a few weeks back. Hailed as one of the creepiest trailers this season, it had turned enough heads with its visuals and characters alike. 'Creepy' was slapped all over the trailer and the fact that it was more an art-house movie than a commercial movie, intrigued me more. Had Sundance's The Witch trailer not released earlier this week I would still have stuck to Goodnight Mommy's disturbing trailer.
From the get go you'll know that Goodnight Mommy isn't your average horror movie. Rushing through the movie like any horror movie wouldn't do justice and you wouldn't get the gist of it. Goodnight Mommy counts on being more atmospheric than in-your-face. Along with its 3 leads, its eerily disturbing locales had a life of its own and contributes a lot to the unnerving factor of the movie. A look at the initial scenes with a house in the middle of nowhere and two 9 year old twins playing would make you think that there's something very off about everything that follows.
The plot is paper thin but ain't much straightforward. From the first scene itself you'll find yourself piecing the plot together like a jigsaw puzzle. It isn't brain teasing but it all ends when 'the hunter becomes the hunted' (I wont spoil that implication). Halfway through you'll be questioning the events happening in the movie at the same time your mind will be stern on what it has already grasped in the first half. The leads were terrific, be it the Elias & Lucas Schwarz Twins or the Susanne West's The Mother. The Twins' performance were natural and as naive and, may I say, 'mischievous' as any 9 old's could get while Susanne West's almost covered face could emote more than you can ever imagine.
The weaker points here are the story and the ending. While the trailer boasts like it could be the next best thing in horror genre it isn't so. Call it brilliant marketing, the trailer beckons you to label this as a horror masterpiece. And as they say "Don't judge a book by its cover", the same applies here. Pure horror fans will be disappointed here as there are a lot less scares compared to other movies.
Towards the end or possibly much earlier than that, you'll be able to figure out where its headed and it doesn't help that the ending was equivocal. Its a common horror trope to make the ending ambiguous and while works out well for commercial horror movies, the same just didn't work out here. You will be left with questions that's not pleasing to ponder through.
Goodnight Mommy will shock you, disgust you and rattle you at times, but it wont scare you much. This movie deserves to be watched in patience and taken in with a pinch of salt. Goodnight Mommy revels in its atmospheric dread and a certain mystique that runs almost till the end. Considering its a movie coming from debutantes, Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz, its a commendable effort indeed. This isn't a bad horror movie, its just not what its advertised to be.
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