Fantasia Film Review: Goodnight Mommy

(Source: Ulrich Seidl Film Produktion GmbH)

(Source: Ulrich Seidl Film Produktion GmbH)

You know what’s my definition of a horror movie?

The one where without any music and very little sound has its audience so scared that they can’t scream. I might have quite a movie for you, if that’s your taste. I have to warn you though, you will be horrified before this movie ends. And I mean psychologically – because unlike the passing cheap scare, this is one that will glue itself to your psyche. This is not an audience experience. This is more intimate and far more threatening.

There’s a known mythos in film regarding mother and child. In this movie, that sacred relationship that a lot of movies will not dare question, is shattered into pieces. Don’t dream of the sudden motherly instinct kicking in. That does not exists here. Here is where that holy bond of motherhood and childhood gets utterly defiled.

It’s a nice house out in the middle of the country. Elias and Lukas pass their time playing around until mom returns. She’s had a bad accident and her face is completely bandaged. She’s also a bit aloof, hostile and quite cold. Soon Elias and Lukas notice that mom is acting weird and begin to doubt if she’s really her underneath the bandages. But is that the only thing hiding here? If you pay close attention, and I was, the movie gives away a major twist with clues fairly early. That doesn’t minimize the reveal later – or the scenes to follow.

An alert for the squeamish though. Forget the chainsaws. There’s a scene that involves a pair of scissors that is capable of stopping your heart. A lot of people looked away here. I had to keep looking because it was just so well done that I couldn’t do it the disservice of ignoring it. It is a well crafted film and one that will stick with you for a while. It’s also beautifully shot. The film is directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz.

Recommended ONLY if you can handle strong scenes. I will recommend this one to a horror movie aficionado only if they had experience psychological terror in movies before. Don’t bring your friends, don’t get the popcorn and for the love of God do not even think of seeing this with your mother or your children. Neither of you will trust the other by the time this film is done. As much as I want to give it a recommendation, I have to do so with a warning. This movie will go under your skin and stay there.

Coming next!

That will do for now.

(Sources: Fantasia International Film Festival)

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