Refn/Hyams remake of Maniac Cop moves forward
Test of Time: Ghost in the Shell
Zombieland 2 in development, original cast coming back?
Movie Review: Prevenge
Terminator franchise not dead, announcement coming soon
Face-Off: Creature vs Forbidden World
First teaser for Adam Wingard's Death Note
Movie Review: Dig Two Graves
Cool Horror Gear: 30th anniversary Predator swag!
Ivan Reitman claims still more Ghostbusters on the way
World War Z 2 producer still has hope Fincher will direct
Black Sheep: Thir13en Ghosts (Video)
The Austrian horror flick GOODNIGHT MOMMY (GET THE BLU-RAY HERE) caught my interest via potent word of mouth and a chilling trailer that whooped me. I had high expectations for this one, hoping for a new genre classic. I can usually depend on foreign horror films for the possibility of that going down. While Hollywood keeps churning out McProducts, the rest of the world is aiming higher than the norm, trying to deliver fear flicks that will stand the test of time and be remembered. So did GOODNIGHT MOMMY live up to its rep? Yes and no.
I hate movies like this as much as I love them. What kind of movie you may ask? Those that take a couple of days of mulling over to figure out if you liked them or not. Sure, I’ll take that over being negative or indifferent about a film any day, but it makes writing about them difficult. As I keyboard vomit this drivel, I’m still not sure as to how I feel about the movie. I am hoping that I’ll figure it out as I share my thoughts with you mothertruckers. So here it goes! Directed by directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (who also penned the screenplay), I would describe GOODNIGHT MOMMY as an horror art film (shot on glorious 35mm film on top of that - nice!). The initial premise snagged me in right away and the fascinating mystery behind "the mother" had my one brain cell bouncing off wall as to what the answer could be. On an aesthetic standpoint; the camera moves were slow and steady (DP Martin Gschlacht got skills), the pace was methodically leisure (which for me, made the film all the more engrossing, I felt like a fish being carefully reeled in), the framing was axed on the artistic (loved the use of the out of focus picture frames in the background or that ominous crucifix on the wall), the whole was low on editing cuts (I can’t remember the last time I’ve seen so many static shots/long takes in a recent picture) and heavy on dread filled atmosphere.
Moreover, the flick did a fantastic job in terms of milking its gorgeous yet looming locations. The high end yet isolated house, the cornfield, and the gloomy woods. Lovely in a macabre kind of way. Finally, the performances were simply superb! Suzanne West hit varied levels as the “could be, could not be” mother, it must have been a tough shoot for the lass. On their end, real life twin brothers Elias and Lukas Schwarz (as Elias and Lukas) shared an earnest chemistry (I sure hope so, their brothers) and emanated a tantalizing off kilter vibe. There was something “off” about the brats that I couldn’t pin down. It should be said, that the directing here mucho boosted their performances. The camera would often linger on the kids for more beats than the norm and I found it fascinating to see their inner monologue go down via their eyes darting about and uneasy body language.
Add to all that an oppressive score, genuine suspense and cringe inducing body horror bits that put me through the ringer and you get an ambitious and classy genre opus. So what’s stopping me from giving it a higher rating? Well there was one scene having to do with the “Red Cross” popping by that didn’t rub me the right way. It was played for laughs (I didn’t need humor at that point, the story had me by the balls, why let go?) and unless strangers barging into people’s home and making themselves comfortable is a common thing in Austria, the scene made no sense to me. But that didn’t hurt too much. The last plot point on the other hand? Yeah, it’s the reason WHY I have digesting this puppy.
MILD SPOILER AHEAD: You see for the first hour, the film led me in one direction (and even cheated about it with a misleading eerie scene in the woods) and then out of nowhere it pulled a fast one on me. Now that wouldn’t be a negative thing if I found the new direction more interesting than the initial one – alas that wasn’t the case. In short GOODNIGHT MOMMY was bold and fresh for its first two acts and then embraced the déjà vu (I would name films that used the same ploy but that would spoil the thing for y’all) for its last section. I’ve thought about this long and hard (insert penis joke here), and yeah, it pains me to say that the film should have struck to its initial trajectory. END OF MILD SPOILER.
All in all though, GOODNIGHT MOMMY was still a masterfully directed, unnerving and mood drenched flick! A near masterpiece! I said near as it should have stuck to its guns the whole way through....