DirectorVeronika Franz & Severin Fiala
Release Date(s)2015 (December 1, 2015)
Studio(s)Anchor Bay Entertainment
- Film/Program Grade: B
- Video Grade: A-
- Audio Grade: A-
- Extras Grade: D-
The horror genre received a number of critically-acclaimed movies this year, including We Are Still Here, Bone Tomahawk, Tales of Halloween, and the recently-released Krampus, amongst many others. When it comes to minimalist horror though, It Follows seemed to make the biggest splash. Elsewhere in the world, however, Goodnight Mommy, released as Ich Seh, Ich Seh in its native Austria, was making the rounds with high critical praise.
The story concerns a set of young twin boys who after living on their own for a brief time, find themselves at odds with their newly-arrived mother, who has come home from the hospital wrapped in bandages after a car crash. Her sudden less than nurturing attitude towards them soon leads them to believe that she isn’t really who she says she is and they begin to try and unravel what became of their real mother and find out who the person is that has replaced her, or so it seems.
Goodnight Mommy is sometimes described as an out-and-out horror film, but in actuality, it has more of a psychological thriller edge than anything. The very idea that the person you trust as your mother may not be who she claims to be is terrifying, especially to someone that young. Looking at it out from the outside in, the film has the look of many other modern horror movies due to it being all about children, which has become a very common thing in today’s horror climate. At the very least, it’s what seems to be getting the most attention nowadays, regardless of where it originates from. There’s also always a major plot twist revealed at some point, and Goodnight Mommy seems to follow those particular guidelines.
For the most part, the first half of the movie feels kind of dull. There’s very little in the way of dialogue, score, or much noise of any kind really. It spends most of its time building atmosphere, and it isn’t until the film’s final half hour that the true nature of the story gets underway. Unfortunately, it’s difficult to get into without getting into spoilers, so I won’t try, but I will say that I picked up on the twist about halfway through. The twist itself isn’t all that original, but the final moments of the film are quite intense and worth sitting through the movie for to see.
Even though it is a bit lopsided, Goodnight Mommy is certainly worth a look, especially if you’re a fan of child-related horror movies, or even movies like Martyrs or Triangle. It was recently selected for possibly inclusion for best foreign language film at next year’s Academy Awards, and the critical praise about it is quite positive. I wouldn’t call it groundbreaking cinema, but it’s definitely memorable, and it has some effective moments that will make you cringe. If you’re into that sort of thing, then there’s something to be appreciated in Goodnight Mommy.
Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray presentation of the film is quite excellent. During the end credits, it is touted as being “Shot in glorious 35mm”. As such, there’s a very obvious but smooth grain structure from beginning to end with an enormous amount of detail on display. The film’s color palette, which is comprised mostly of blues and grays, is very strong. Black levels, as well as contrast and brightness levels, both have much to offer. There are no visible film artifacts left behind, but there is some very minor banding on display at times. The only audio track available, which is a German 5.1 DTS-HD track, has plenty to offer in terms of crispness, but doesn’t feature much of a bombastic surround experience. When the dialogue is present, it’s always very clear and discernible. It’s not the fault of the track, however, but more so the film itself. It’s a very quiet film with almost no score and very little dialogue, building its atmosphere without much in the way of boisterous aural activity. There are slight surround touches, specifically during outdoor scenes or late night creeping indoors, but it mostly lacks any activity. Overall, it’s a strong presentation with little to complain about. There are subtitle options in English, English SDH, and Spanish for those who might need them.
The only extra available is an on-camera interview with directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. They go over a lot of the film’s development, casting, and production, and since they’re speaking in German, they’re subtitled in English.
Goodnight Mommy may not be one of the more well-remembered and studied pieces of horror filmmaking in years to come, but it still offers something of value, even if it is a little bit of everything that garners attention these days within the genre. You can decide for yourself though, and Anchor Bay’s presentation is a great choice for that.
- Tim Salmons