SFF Review: Goodnight Mommy, a faceless mother returns home

One of most unhinging films I saw at the Stanley Film Festival came from directing tandem Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, whose psychological shocker Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, Ich seh) delivered a nasty, gut-grinding film about damaged minds and tormented children. In the film, nine-year-old twin brothers discover that after their mother comes home, bandaged after cosmetic surgery, nothing is like before… especially her. Soon, doubt settles in and the children start to wonder if this woman is actually who she says she is.

Goodnight Mommy wants you to feel uneasy from the onset, pulling you into this hot, summer-set world where twin brothers—Lukas and Elias—question the return of their mother. With her entire face covered in bandages, the film paints this idea of a mother with no face, one that two loving brothers no longer recognize or even trust. She’s different, cold and carries this darkness around with her, a darkness that becomes heightened when her kids start to question who she is. If the woman under those bandages isn’t their mother, then who is? That’s the question that immediately rises in Goodnight Mommy, and holy shit does it go to some dark places.

It’s in this very idea of a faceless mother returning home to her children that the film roots its evil claws into your skin and slowly starts to peel it away. There’s something inherently terrifying about the very idea of no longer recognizing someone you’ve spent your entire life with. And Goodnight Mommy exploits that very notion masterfully, taking you down a rabbit hole that goes from mysterious and unsettling to vicious and disturbing. But the true backbone of the film is in the relationship between the twin brothers, who stick together no matter the cost. It’s a wonderful thing, the inseparable bond between brothers, and the film does an incredible job of displaying their strength, especially towards the end when they’re forced to take matters into their own hands.

It’s right in that very moment where Goodnight Mommy takes an unexpected turn, and it’s one that will leave your jaw on the floor. I won’t spoil it here because the true fun in this film is in the unknown and the steep path it takes in the final 30 minutes or so. The film never quite prepares you for where it’s headed either; what was once a slow boiling sense of dread, quickly turns into pure, bloody shock.

I don’t have much else to say, really. It’s an unbearably tense little film that simmers in an atmosphere of psychological horror. With a small cast consisting of two brothers and their mother, the film feels appropriately claustrophobic and isolated, working its way towards a finale that will have your skin crawling right off your bones. It’s a wonderful treat to the genre, delivering a special kind of crazy that goes to some dark and horrific places.


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20 thoughts on “SFF Review: Goodnight Mommy, a faceless mother returns home

  1. I think the title really suggests a lot. It sounds so innocent. You’ve made this sound proper f**ked up man, I can’t wait to get a hold of it somewhere.

    1. Hell yeah, man. It’s really something else, I’ll say that much. Hopefully it gets distributed soon, I’m looking forward to seeing what others think of it.

  2. Holey Moley – this sounds terrifying and fascinating. Talk about tapping into a person’s primal fears!

    I liked your comment about the brothers sticking together, no matter what. That alone must be rather gut-wrenching, no?

  3. Skipping the review until after viewing. This looks intriguing, so I will have to give it a go.

  4. Reblogged this on sixdegreesofstoogeration and commented:
    It’s rare that there’s a NEW, non b-type movie that I’m itching to see, but this? I love the idea, and if it’s even half as good as described, then WOW!

    (PS: the RiffTrax Live! version of The Room is the last movie I saw…last Wednesday! OHAI, I’ll finally get to watch a good movie!)

  5. Nice review man. This is on at a festival I’m going to in June. Not sure if I will be able to squeeze it in my schedule, but will do my best.

  6. Your reviews are always so masterfully written, even if it’s a terrible movie I’m sure you could convince me to go see it!
    However this, coupled with the trailer, looks to be a pretty heavy hitter
    I could barely handle Mama, and the effects in that were ropier than Sharknado
    This looks clean, beautifully shot, and may just give me PTSD
    I like it

  7. I really liked this film.it´s the best horror movie of the year so far… had the chance to watch it last night and will rewatch it today because you know it demands it just to pick up the various clues It gave us along the way…

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