*POSSIBLE SPOILER ALERT. *
This Austrian film’s title should have been translated into “I See, I See” or “I Spy” instead of “Goodnight Mommy.” It’s so much more poetic that way and gives away a lot less. But who am I to judge that?
Regardless, this movie was pure art.
“Goodnight Mommy” is about two twin boys (Lukas and Elias) whose mother comes back home after some serious plastic surgery. She begins to act distant from the two, even ignoring one (Lukas) altogether. Suspicious, the brothers begin to believe that the woman is not their mother.
I wish I could say more about the movie, but I’m trying to write this in a way so that you will watch the movie. So I will try my best not to spoil too much or preferably none at all.
The general mood was very minimal yet at the same time surreal. Visually there was a pleasing lack of detail that contrasted perfectly with the high complexity and intricacy behind the characters’ relationships. Clean and pristine, the audience is presented with the ideal life on a cursory level. This allows us to not be distracted by anything else and pulls our focus on perverse nature that lies within the boys as their distrust for their mother grows larger and larger.
Most horror movies depend on striking images that evoke a sense of revulsion in the viewer. “Goodnight Mommy” at its core is no different. However, it is not necessarily what is explicitly shown that really makes our stomachs curl. Rather, it is what is suggested by the images. If played a different way, the masks the boys wear would actually be kind of cute. I mean, it’s not unnatural for a little boy to draw monsters or alien creatures out of their imaginations… I think… Anyways, in this movie, the circumstance in which the masks appear are certainly not symbols of innocent innovation. Although it starts out to seem that way.
The covering of the face is essential to the movie. For a child, part of trusting their parent is knowing who they are physically. But what’s to say, the same doesn’t go for the parent? The face after all is a piece of our identity not just on a personal level, but a more social level as well. Because of this lingering thought, the masks become more unsettling than ever as the sons too begin to push away from their mother who seems to already be drifting.
Composition is also an important piece of the movie that is very much worth paying attention to. You will find that the Lukas and Elias are unusually close even for twins. And every time they are parted–whether it be forcefully or in a playful game–something makes you feel uncomfortable. Perhaps it’s because we are so used to seeing them together and we feel that they should be.
We also find discomfort when the whole family is together or even when the mother is near even just one of them.
But I’ll let you figure out the rest of that!
“Ich Seh Ich Seh” is clearly not your cliché horror film. Like any good psychological horror it really leaves a lasting image in your mind. If you watched the trailer for this, (like I was) you are probably scared out of your wits. But honestly, it really isn’t the kind of scary that jumps out at you.
Though I will say that it sent shivers down my spine multiple times.