I saw “Goodnight Mommy” completely cold in 2014, when Fantastic Fest’s Tim League dropped this shocking piece of auteur horror like a bomb onto the fest’s secret screening-goers. It’s a sick movie, often brilliant, without hope or redemption.
The film opens with plenty of atmospheric portent, as the camera slithers through a cornfield in an isolated natural world suggestive of a fairy tale, before introducing Elias and Lukas (Elias and Lukas Schwarz), identical adolescent twins who look like the pin-up children of the Third Reich, who aren’t convinced that their chilly, (also) blonde mother (Susanne Wuest) is really who she says she is.
While garden variety American horror movies aren’t prude about turning children into harbingers of evil (take for example almost any contemporary US horror movie) “Goodnight Mommy” goes to even further, more horrifying lengths to propose that children could actually be inherently malevolent. This is a must-see for fans of extreme cinema and those movie-lovers who get off on taut editing, delicately placed sound design and tightly wound storytelling—and a must-never-see for pretty much everybody else.
Written and directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, “Goodnight Mommy,” boldly selected as Austria’s 2016 Oscar entry, opens September 11 in theaters from Radius-TWC, the force behind this year’s “It Follows.”