In the heat of the summer. A lonesome house in the countryside between woods and corn fields. Nine-year-old twin brothers 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.
In the film, GOODNIGHT Mommy, Lukas and Elias, are twin bothers, who often kill time with outdoor activities, such as playing hide and seek in the massive cornfields which surround their house in the countryside. After such an outdoor excursion, they come home to find their mother, who has just returned after a plastic surgery procedure, is not quite the same. Their mother, who is a television host, now has her face wrapped in bandages, as she is displaying signs of antisocial behavior. She tells the boys not to make any noise, to shield off all of the sunlight, and to not let anyone in the house. In other words, she just wants to be left alone, which is quite the opposite of the lively mother that she usually is. As her odd behavior worsens, to the point that she gets violent towards her sons, the twins begin to sense something is going on, and that whomever this is, she is certainly not their mother. Fearing that they might be in danger, and wanting their "real" mother to return to them, the twins resort to brute force. But as things reach its peak, it is clear that indeed, all is not, right however, what may be wrong may not have to do with the "mother" at all.
I have said this other times before. Sometimes we reviewers get films that after we watch them, we are hardly compelled to write up anything about them, as a result of a film falling flat on its face, Well, with GOODNIGHT MOMMY, it is one of those occasions. It is just one of those films that just really took the wind out of my sails. In the end, I was really disappointed, as it is a film that ends on such a bum note after promising so much. GOODNIGHT MOMMY, which was co-directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, like with IT FOLLOWS previously, comes following a ton of hype. Some of the hype, even calling it the "scariest film of the year". It's no different than any other year. Every year, we get a film, or films that is something - "of the year". Unfortunately, like many of those, "of the years", GOONIGHT MOMMY is another one, that, in my opinion falls flat, and fails to live up to the hype. First it was IT FOLLOWS, and now this.
I will admit that this German spoken film from nearby Austria, gets off to a nice start. From its indie feel, to its air of mystery, and uncertainty - it really gets the ball rolling. It is during this period, that we wonder just what the hell is going on here, which in turn keeps the anticipation fresh. However, he's the thing. After a good start, GOODNIGHT MOMMY gets settled into a slow burning pace, that it later has difficulty getting itself out of. For the most part, it becomes a bore to the viewer, who eventually finds themselves longing for something,...anything of interest to happen. And granted, there are things that do happen, including a little twist at the end. However, that too suffers from having virtually no build, and the fact, that most will see the big reveal coming from a mile away, if they have ever seen similar before. Personally, I figured it out at about the 10 minute mark, where I hoped i'd be wrong about my prediction. But unfortunately I wasn't. When it comes to GOODNIGHT MOMMY, a big chunk of it is just far too predictable, while the rest of it makes little sense. Early on, the film goes out of its way to be a little cryptic and confusing to the viewer. Unfortunately those, I think that the script might have confused itself along the way. Without the big twist at the end, GOODNIGHT MOMMY offers little else of merit. I think most of us who see it will talk more about just how predictable and similar it is, rather than what is to be remembered from it.
When I went into GOODNIGHT MOMMY, I was prepared to really enjoy it, as I looked for something new and different. Instead, what I got was a plot device that is really not all that new, and overall, a film that seems to not know what kind of film it is - at least, what it wants to be. It does well with its initial mystery, aided by a few creepy dream sequences, however the remainder of the film just doesn't support the good of the film enough. It goes from being a weird and ominous to being flat and dull. If you came out of the film's trailer thinking that you had just seen all of the film's good parts, you'd be right. There is just little else of interest. In the end, it tries to leave an impression, but is just too poorly executed for us to care much.
IMPRESSION OF THE FILM
This is one of these films you come away from and just say, "man it could have been good", because, it could have been. It is one of those films that starts off well, as it presents itself as a challenge. We have to figure it out. Is this woman, Lukas and Elias mom? And if not, then who is she? With this in mind, it reels in the audience who is expecting something big to happen. Even through its slow bouts, we still expect something worthwhile to come in the end. And something big comes alright. But unfortunately for us, it's big disappointment, as it ends with the type of scenario that we have seen play out a million time over. Instead of giving us something unexpected, or maybe even innovative, it's the same old thing.
Special Features include :
- "A Conversation with Filmmakers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala"
This film will be released on Blu-Ray and DVD on December 1, 2015>