“Goodnight Mommy” is the remake of the 2016 Austrian horror film of the same name. I say remake lightly. The original movie tackles what it’s like to go through a period of grief when you’re entirely alone. This film does the same thing, only here, and brilliantly when you think about it, you’re not quite sure what the hell is going on! Well, at first. It’s a tad slow. However, that’s what makes it so good… or is it confusing to its audience? That’s why I also use the word “brilliantly.” When you leave the theater, you can’t help but continue to think about this movie eating away at you.
Why? Because the entire time you watch, your eyes are fixated on faces, missing critical elements of the story that are building around you. You must have a second watch… brilliantly or well played by director Matt Sobel. But because of what has come before it, this thriller carries a heavy load with tremendous expectations.
Twin boys Elias and Lukas (played by real twins Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti, who have a bright future ahead of them) are taken to see their mother (Naomi Watts). She has been absent from their lives for a while because she’s just had cosmetic surgery. As she has aged, the ability to be confident about herself has been repressed by wrinkles and frown lines. The boys are shocked to see that her face is completely wrapped in gauze. Her eyes are left unveiled, but they lack a loving twinkle. Though they can see her lips, they see no smile.
Their mother is unstable, acting very strangely and has become distant. Since the surgery, they’ve noticed she has become a rather unhappy individual, someone they barely recognize. She doesn’t see herself either. When looking in the mirror, she’s unable to remember who she once was. As time goes by, they aren’t able to find their mother, specifically when trying to engage. Elias and Lukas begin to question who truly is underneath the dressings. Is this woman their mother or an imposter of some sort?
When they first see her, they present her with a drawing or “drawling” as Elias states it, which tells and shows their mother how much they love and have missed her. This is torn up and thrown in the trash. She gets almost abusive when they cross a line the boys didn’t know existed. It could be their overactive imagination, but more and more, Elias and Lukas are convinced that they must escape this stranger’s clutches.
Their mother has been drinking and smoking, something she would never do. This may be the reason for her abnormal demeanor and their inability to find her amongst the bandages. Regardless, it’s time to let someone know they’re worried. If they’re wrong, they’re wrong. Better to be safe than sorry.
It could be wrong to label “Goodnight Mommy” a horror like the first one was. It’s not the first film and to do this would perplex and may even agitate fans of its predecessor. A few scenes will have you leaping from your seat, but that does not make a horror film. A dramatic thriller it is and how it’ll be seen. Going in with that in mind will help enhance the experience for you.
No, you don’t get your traditional horror, but you’re afraid for the boys and what’s on the other side of the bedroom door or waiting for them around the corner. Phycological terror is always much more chilling anyway… don’t you think?
Watts and the Crovetti’s are excellent in their roles and if you pay attention, focus really hard on everything happening on screen, their efforts will have paid off. You’ll have something to talk about for a while to come…. especially when the comedic dialogue hits.
“Goodnight Mommy will be released on Prime Video September 16, 2022.
Directed by: Matt Sobel
Written by: Kyle Warren
Starring: Naomi Watts, Cameron Crovetti, Nicholas Crovetti
Run Time: 1h 31m
Genres: Crime, Drama, Thriller
Distributed by: Amazon Studios