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‘Goodnight Mommy’ Will Thrill Fans of Extreme Psychological Horror


Photo credit: Communicator archive

Written by: Communicator StaffOctober 28, 2015

Quality reviews focused on alternative films shown at Fort Wayne’s Cinema Center. A column written by Zachary D. Elick.

“Goodnight Mommy” is a genuinely unsettling horror film that sticks with you for days afterward. It torments the audience with scenes of graphic, realistic violence, while focusing more on inflicting psychological damage than your average slasher flick — which “Goodnight Mommy” certainly is not. This movie practically creates its own new horror movie genre: extreme psychological horror.

Set in Austria, the film follows the experience of two young twin boys, Elias and Lukas, as they come to terms with their mother’s new plastic surgery. From the moment she returns from the hospital, her face completely covered by bandages, the boys notice a change in her demeanor and personality: more detached and not as nice as she used to be. However, with “Goodnight Mommy,” not much is what it seems.

The cold atmosphere that permeates the homelife of the boys and their mother, living alone on the deserted countryside, is deftly illustrated through the observational style of the cinematography, the frigidness exhibited by the actors and the visceral quality of the sound design. All of these qualities serves to make the audience feel uneasy from pretty much the very first frame.

For instance, the audience is made to feel as if it is seeing through the eyes of the twins

as they become more and more dismayed at what they perceive of their mother’s actions. And, in this perspective, she is often framed in shots that make her seem more like an alien life-form being examined and less like a loving parent.

When the twins eventually come to the resolution that this woman is, in fact, not their mother at all, the movie begins to make promise on its disconcerting tone.

Running through the movie is an interesting theme focused on parallelism; the opening and ending shots of the movie mirror each other in a profoundly creepy way.

“Goodnight Mommy” is a very well made horror film that pulls no punches with its capacity for bleakness; though, because of this, the film will be a truly unpleasant viewing experience for some at times.  Those of who are interested in this kind of experience will likely love this movie. However, less courageous views should stay far away.