GOODNIGHT MOMMY Review

goodnight mommy

Director: Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz

Genre: Horror

Release: 2015

GOODNIGHT MOMMY (titled ICH SEH, ICH SEH in German) opens with the image of a mother and her several children, dressed in traditional Bavarian attire, harmoniously singing to the audience. This opening, befittingly reminiscent of THE SOUND OF MUSIC, lays the foundation for what is easily the hardest pill to swallow since the release of Pascal Laugier’s MARTYRS in 2008. Out Babadooking THE BABADOOK and metaphorically more intellectual than Kim Jee Woon’s A TALE OF TWO SISTERS, GOODNIGHT MOMMY is a thematically dense and petrifying viewing experience, making for horror entertainment that is heavily reminiscent of the works of Haneke, most notably his black and white masterpiece THE WHITE RIBBON.

goodnight mommy collage

I’ll take the Gruesome Twosome Family Combo

Like many of the greatest works of cinema, GOODNIGHT MOMMY is a piece of entertainment that a viewer can find enjoyment in for its base premise alone, without having to get caught up in the complexities of its metaphors. Conceptually captivating and brilliantly misleading, directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz lure the viewer into a narrative densely populated with analogies that can be drawn to German radicalism. There are numerous ways of reading into GOODNIGHT MOMMY’s plot, but what remains consistent is that it is not afraid of exposing its audience to a spine-tingling narrative, whilst subliminally delivering a tale that is far more intellectual than the basis of most contemporary horror films.

goodnight mommy mask

Backstage at the YEEZUS tour

Long takes and static cameras only add to the overriding feeling of nausea due to the odd juxtaposition of rural Austria and the protagonists modern, sterile villa, crafting a clever sense of solitude reminiscent of EX MACHINA. The tense, cold aesthetic makes for a viewing experience that heavily harkens back to the visual execution of Haneke’s FUNNY GAMES, and his peer Götz Spielmann’s film REVANCHE. Apart from being an absolute visual delight, Fiala and Franz have crafted what is indisputably the most difficult to watch release of the year, and whilst torturous and often disgusting, it never stoops to the level of exploitative torture-porn. The film is built in such a way that the pain inflicted upon different characters is easier to swallow, since it manages to consistently see-saw audience opinion of who is in the right. In retrospect, the trailer to GOODNIGHT MOMMY is a clever series of misleading edits that allows Fiala and Franz to draw in viewers that would otherwise not subject themselves to this type of thematically complex cinema.

goodnight mommy child mask

The smartest HOSTEL origin story ever conceived

Many might write off character behavior in GOODNIGHT MOMMY as being a little difficult to believe, but what must be considered is that the suspension of disbelief doesn’t require the viewer to believe in impossibility, but rather an intrinsic strangeness in human nature that best represents the disjointed status of the modern German family and Germany as a whole. Similarly to 2008’s EDEN LAKE (and even more similarly to Haneke’s THE WHITE RIBBON), characters begin to represent a greater microcosm of a nations populous, and thus their behavior is fueled by analogy rather than raw humanity. Naturally, this makes the entire viewing experience all the more difficult due to an inherent inaccessibility, but ultimately results in something thoroughly rewarding once properly digested.

goodnight mommy bandage

Sprechen sie lengthy analogy of 21st century Deutschland?

The last twelve months have presented a polarizing series of horror releases from all corners of the globe, whether it be the products of the Blumhouse factory of horror, or indie favorites such as IT FOLLOWS or THE BABADOOK. The latter were met with high critical acclaim at the time of their release, but in hindsight, were merely standouts among the particularly weak entries the genre tends to suffer. Now, out of the woodwork comes GOODNIGHT MOMMY, and for the first time in a long time, it feels befitting to laud a horror film for all of its cinematic qualities, and not just its fear factor.

Verdict: Recommend

Sergio Zaciu

"When I make love, I realize eating steak was the preferable alternative." Sergio is the Crossfader Film Editor and a film connoisseur from Romania. He pretends to understand culinary culture enough to call himself an LA foodie, but he just can't manage to like scallops.

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