GOODNIGHT MOMMY: Hello Nightmares
Though with a contrived ending, Goodnight Mommy is a mostly intriguing Austrian horror film that plays on inborn, relatable fears.
Horror comes in many shapes and sizes. Sometimes the simplest things are those that scare us the most, and every culture has their own approach towards what scares them. Not everything is always as it seems, and the film Goodnight Mommy (Original: Ich Seh, Ich Seh) highlights this approach.
The Austrian film was the country’s hope to get a nomination at the Academy Awards. Yet, while it did not secure the nomination, it did make an intriguing approach on the horror genre. The film tries to enforce the paranoia we live with in our own homes, moving away from classic horror tropes by making us feel unsafe at home. Focusing on the lives of twins and their mother, it makes us question who is the monster, highlighting how change can affect us on an emotional and psychological level. Is the film successful in this attempt, or are horror tropes more difficult to avoid?
Mother May I?
The story is quite simple, but effective. It builds upon childish horrors – my mother does not look like the person I once loved, so she must be someone else. Her behaviour is a bit different, so it further cements my suspicions. It uses a real-live symptom known as the Capgras Delusion, but adds that childish twist. Adults would test people through words and actions. No matter the delusion, there are limits to how far a person will go before they go insane; the issue is that children do not hold that limitation.
Come Play With Us!
The true standout in this film is the mother, played by Susanne Wuest. She plays the character very well, even if most of the film we don’t see her face. Her reactions to the horrific things that happen to her are quite genuine. She also plays off of these children in a way that adds to her performance. There is one scene featuring her character that was odd, though. It comes out of nowhere, is never build up, and is nonsensical. While interesting from a visual standpoint, it adds nothing to the film as a whole.
A Tale of Two Twins
It is a rather fascinating approach at horror. There are some small tropes that find their way in, which will always tend to happen in some shape or form. Still, what is attempted and done is quite effective. Questioning if your loved one is who they say they are is a rather terrifying thought. Forcing us to see how far someone will go to make sure about it, adds to that very horror. While the ending is a bit forced, it still is an intriguing story.
Goodnight Mommy is a great recommendation for any horror fan. As an Austrian film it does not add anything to that particular culture, but it does elevate a more personal view on horror: sometimes the scariest things are hiding in our own homes.
What did you think of Goodnight Mommy? Let us know your thoughts!
Opinions expressed in our articles are those of the authors and not of the Film Inquiry magazine.