In a lonesome house in the countryside in the heat of mid-summer, nine year old twin brothers await their mother's return from the hospital. When she comes home with her face obscured by bandages, nothing is like before and the children start to doubt whether this woman is actually who she says she is. What ensues is a terrifying struggle with fatal consequences on par with The Shining and Dead Ringers in what The Daily Beast calls "the most terrifying film of the year."
It's rare these days where a horror film relies on an atmospheric, slow burn pace to muster up its scares. It's even more rare when a horror film stays with you for days after you view it. Usually, once you finish viewing a modern horror movie, you get up, laugh, and forget what you just saw, as more horror movies these days have cheap jump out scares every few minutes while they try to be toned down to a PG-13 rating.
There were a couple of horror films recently that didn't follow those rules, such as 'It Follows' and 'The Babadook', both of which were scary as hell, well filmed and acted, and stayed with you for weeks on end. Another film you can add to this wonderful list is a German film called 'Goodnight Mommy', which comes from the writing/directing team of Veronkia Franz and Severin Fiala.
This film ratchets up its high suspense with each ticking minute on the clock, while never having to have quick cuts or big action scenes. That's not the film this sets out to be. This is a hypnotic page turner of a film that will leave the hairs on your arm and neck stand up for the duration of the movie, as we slowly figure out what just is going on. Franz and Fiala rely on the less is more approach here, only giving few clues as to what the characters are going through, and it's a very tense and unnerving ride from start to finish.
This beautiful film follows two young twin boys Lukas and Elias (Lukas and Elias Schwartz) who live in the serene German countryside that seems a little too uneasy to be perfect. Their mother (Susanne Wuest) has just come home from getting plastic surgery on her face, which is completely bandaged up. The boys are happy to have their mother back home, however things are a little different.
Their mother is acting differently, sometimes violent as the boys think their mother is not their real mother, but someone else entirely different now. With her face bandaged up and her personality clearly not what it was before, the twin boys go to extreme and disgusting lengths to prove that this woman is their real mother. There is a nice twist that would make M. Night Shyamalan proud, but the real focus of the film is how each scene is constructed with this terrifying sense of chaos and fear that its more about the journey than the reveal, and it works on every level.
This is not a confrontational or hostile film in the vein of tone or execution, but the story unravels with grace and simplicity, catching us off guard at every volatile moment. It's a perfect balance that keeps us on the edge of our seats. There isn't another movie out there that's quite like 'Goodnight Mommy'.
The Blu-ray: Vital Disc Stats
'Goodnight Mommy' comes with a 25GB Blu-ray Disc and is region A locked. The disc comes in a hard blue plastic case with no insert. Very standard packing here.
'Goodnight Mommy' comes with a great 1080p HD transfer and is presented in 2.39:1 aspect ratio. Most of the film takes place under dimly lit situations, which hinders the detail a tiny bit. However, detail is still fairly vivid and sharp throughout. Closeups reveal nice facial features and great textures on clothing, as well as some gruesome makeup blemishes. I just wouldn't go as far as saying its the best presentation I've seen. Wider shots of the green grass and vegetation in the exterior shots are excellent, giving the film some nice depth.
Colors are striking in the exterior sequences for sure, but again, this movie takes place mostly in low lit scenarios indoors, so there is a pale color spectrum through most of the movie. That being said, the blood is a deep, rich red and the grass outside is strikingly green. Black levels are deep and inky and the flesh tones are natural. There is a natural and very thin layer of grain that never fluctuates either as this was filmed on 35mm.There was some very minor banding, but it's nothing to write home about. With zero other compression problems, this video presentation has great marks.
'Goodnight Mommy' comes with a German lossless DTS-HD MA 5.1 mix and sound very good. This film is very atmospheric with very little crescendos and booming sequences that are made to make you jump out of your seat. This isn't an action packed horror movie, but rather a slow-burn thriller that packs the suspense one notch at a time. So don't expect tons of explosions or gun fire here. That being stated, the atmospherics are incredible, from the haunting wind and grass rustling in the background to the wildlife and insects that make their way through the speakers are sound exquisite.
The thundering storms pack a punch as well and are very satisfying. There is very little here in the way of score or music, but it's always well-utilized and balanced and always adds to each suspenseful moment. The dialogue is always crystal clear and easy to follow with the English subtitles, without any pops, cracks, or hiss. The LFE is excellent and the dynamic range is wide here, leaving this subtle yet fascinating audio mix with great marks.
A Conversation with Filmmakers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (HD, 13 Mins.) - The director and writer sit down and discuss the origins of the story, the development of the script, how the movie is supposed to play to audiences and how the audiences should perceive the film.
'Goodnight Mommy' is a excellent addition to the horror genre with its slow burn psychological thriller pace that is very satisfying on almost every level. This is one horror movie that will make you think long after you view it and make you go back for repeated viewings. Excellent performances from everyone involved and fantastic direction from these new set of filmmakers. I look forward to their next projects for sure. The video and audio presentations are both very good, however the one and only extra is a let down. Still, that being said, 'Goodnight Mommy' is highly recommended for your horror fans.