Movie review of “Goodnight Mommy”: The bond between identical twins is the center around which the plot orbits in this moody, vastly disturbing Austrian horror picture. Rating: 4 stars out of 4.
The faces of two young boys, gazing down. They’re among the most haunting images in “Goodnight Mommy,” a picture that’s full of unsettling sights.
They’re boys of about 11. Slender, good-looking kids. Twins, played by real-life twins Lukas and Elias Schwarz. Their characters’ first names are the same as their own.
They’re their own best friends. They’re their only friends.
Movie Review ★★★★
‘Goodnight Mommy,’ with Lukas and Elias Schwarz, Susanne Wuest. Written and directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. 99 minutes. Rated R for dis- turbing violent content and some nudity. In German, with English subtitles. SIFF Cinema Uptown.
Living in a lovely modern house somewhere out in the Austrian woods, they’re isolated, but not alone — or lonely. They have each other.
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The bond between identical twins is the center around which the plot orbits in this moody, vastly disturbing horror picture by Austrian filmmakers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala.
It’s a tight bond, suggesting secret, almost telepathic communication between the two. It’s a bond that will not be broken, and when it’s threatened, as it is in “Goodnight Mommy,” look out.
The threat comes from the boys’ mother (Susanne Wuest), who returns to the house early in the picture after some time away, apparently spent in a hospital. When she returns, her face is heavily bandaged, her features disguised. And she behaves in ways at odds with what the boys are accustomed to. She wants Elias to distance himself from Lukas. She is uncharacteristically harsh with them.
“She wants to tear us apart,” one says. “She’s not our mom,” they conclude.
Paced with quiet deliberation, this is the rare horror movie where the mood gets darker as the filmmakers bring more light to the visuals. At the start, the woman purporting to be their mother insists that the blinds be kept drawn, shrouding the house in semidarkness.
The boys demand to know who she is. She is evasive. They exchange looks fraught with unease and, eventually, menace.
When the blinds are finally lifted and light is shed on the increasingly disturbing doings in that house (involving crawling bugs, a dead cat, a homemade crossbow), when finally those faces, regarding, implacable, look down at what the boys feel driven to do, nightmarish horror is the outcome.