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Monday, March 30, 2015


Courtesy of RADiUS-TWC
2015, 99 minutes
Not Rated

Review by Joshua Handler

Continuing the trend of violence and brutality at New Directors/New Films is Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala's Goodnight Mommy, a mysterious film about twin boys who sense that something is not quite right with their mother after she comes back from an operation.

Goodnight Mommy starts off as a quiet, intriguing thriller before subtly increasing in intensity to become something much more visually disturbing, bone-chillingly violent, and clever. Franz and Fiala smartly don't play all of their cards too early, carefully dealing them out as the film progresses. It's evident that Franz and Fiala want to push their audience to their breaking points. At Friday evening's screening at the Walter Reade Theater, the gasps became increasingly frequent as the film played on. At one point, during a particularly horrifying scene, one woman stood up and declared, "I can't do this anymore!" and left. This reaction, though, epitomizes why Goodnight Mommy is so immensely fun to watch - Franz and Fiala seem to take be having a blast behind the camera, consistently upping the stakes and concocting crazy new things to put their characters (and audience) through, which in turn makes viewing their film highly entertaining.

While Goodnight Mommy might be billed as a horror movie, it isn't. It's much more of a psychological thriller than anything else because it's more eerie than scary. For the reasons stated above, this film will not be for everyone, but there is certainly an audience for it who will enjoy every second.

The performances from the lead three actors, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz, and Susanne Wuest, give the film a lot of its intrigue. The Schwarz' simultaneously innocent and sinister screen presence is highly unnerving and Wuest's committed performance as the mother is cold and harsh, yet wonderful.

Overall, Goodnight Mommy is a delightfully unpleasant, yet immensely satisfying film from two exciting cinematic voices. With beautiful cinematography by Martin Gschlacht, strong performances, controlled direction, and a willingness to go for broke, Goodnight Mommy is a true original that will haunt you long after it's over. RADiUS-TWC will release the film in the United States later this year.


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