Horror can be a polarizing genre at the best of times but Goodnight Mommy restores your faith in the field. Playing more as a psychological thriller in large parts, this Austrian effort (that was actually made in 2014) finally gets its UK release after numerous successful runs on the global festival circuit.
Make no mistake – this is also a typical horror in the traditional sense too, with some really wince-worthy scenes towards the finale. Twins Lukas and Elias Schwarz play young brothers who question the identity of their mother when she returns home from facial reconstructive surgery. Acting out of character and bandaged up, the boys believe she might just be an imposter.
The Schwarz twins handle the lead performances particularly well. Their behaviour as rambunctious brothers who like to spend time with each other immediately gives you a vested interest in their story. When they begin to doubt things, you do too and this makes you champion their cause all the more.
Susanne Wuest oozes creepiness and is a joy to watch here. As the story progresses, the script demands much more from her performance and Wuest delivers exceptionally well. Her dynamic with the boys is believable and organic, which adds further weight to their family back-story too.
Directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz do a remarkable job making a modern house in the middle of the gorgeous, picturesque countryside an altogether creepy and isolating proposition. Taking place during the height of summer is also a masterstroke, making the quieter moments of the sunny season more menacing and eerie. The fact that most of the tension builds during daylight hours shows just how strong the characterisation is here, with these effective plot devices lending to the premise exceptionally well.
Goodnight Mommy is an unsettling, clever and very effective chiller that keeps you guessing right until the shocking finale. Full of great characterisation, this slow-burn thriller always has your attention and frequently surprises. Goodnight Mommy is a real highlight of the film calendar and one that deserves a bigger audience.
Watch the trailer for Goodnight Mommy below:
Cast: Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz, Susanne Wuest Director: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz Writer: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz Released By: Vertigo Releasing Certificate: 15 Duration: 99 mins Release Date: 4th March 2016