• Goodnight Mommy

    Released by: Anchor Bay Entertainment
    Released on: December 1st, 2015.
    Director: Severin Fiala, Veronika Frank
    Cast: Susanna Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz
    Year: 2014
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    The Movie:

    Written and directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Frank and released in 2014, Goodnight Mommy is the type of film you’re best to go into fairly blind. As such, we’ll keep the plot synopsis brief – two twin boys, Lukas (Lukas Schwarz) and Elias (Elias Schwarz), are playing outside. Their mother (Susanna Wuest) comes back from the hospital, her face wrapped in bandages. There’s tension right away and her behavior seems a little bit off. This leads the boys to come to the conclusion that this is not their mother at all, but some sort of imposter. We’ll leave it at that.

    No spoilers.

    This is a twisted movie. It takes a concept that is both simple and legitimately frightening (that being that someone we not only care about but depend on is now who they seem) and it exploits it in very clever ways. It finds the right mix of psychological tension and visceral thrills and it moves at just the right pace so that all of this unfolds reasonably quickly but not at the cost of plot or character development. There are some clever elements at play here, and Goodnight Mommy turns out to be one of those movies that definitely rewards attentive viewers.

    For a picture so dependent on child actors, thing shape up nicely with the performances as well. The Schwarz brothers are excellent here, each one chiseling out their own unique identities within the film, an aspect that becomes increasingly important as all of this unravels. They convey every emotion the story requires – fear, sadness, anger, frustration – in equal measure but as dominance begins to steamroll submissiveness they can and do take things into some very interesting territory. As you watch the movie pay attention to these kids, to their facial expressions and their mannerisms. Note the way that certain lines are delivered, what sets them off, which makes one angry and not the other. All of this comes into play before the movie wraps and it’s layered into the story rather nicely. Susanna Wuest also does great work here. Her performance keeps us guessing and as the boys go about their business in the movie we really don’t know if she is or isn’t who she claims to be. She too delivers some very convincing work here – cold and clinical, even angry, when she’s needed to be but not at all without her own sense of pathos. There are other characters in the film, but none of them get more than a few minutes of screen time. The Schwarz’s and Wuest do the vast majority of work in front of the camera and really, the picture is all the better for it.

    The film takes place, for the vast majority of its running time, inside the family house. Little details like certain photographs that are placed in parts of the house don’t seem like much at first but by the time the movie is over, the mean something more than they appeared to. Placing the house out in the country allows the story to unfold without outside interruption, save for one scene (which actually feels out of place and brings things to a big of a halt) where some unexpected visitors arrive. That aside, this is nicely shot, fairly stylish and consistently creepy in its second half.


    Goodnight Mommy arrives on Blu-ray from Anchor Bay in an excellent looking AVC encoded 1080p high definition transfer framed at 2.35.1 widescreen. The image is pristine and it translates to Blu-ray very nicely. The color reproduction on this disc is great while the black levels look nice and deep but never muddy up the fine detail that’s present throughout the movie. Skin tones look excellent and texture is consistently impressive. There are no problems with any crush nor are there any obvious compression artifacts or shimmering problems. Honestly, it’s hard to imagine the movie looking a whole lot better than it does here. Full marks for the very strong picture quality on this disc.

    The only audio option for the feature is a DTS-HD 5.1 Master Audio track in German. Optional English and Spanish subtitles are included as is an English closed captioning feature. The audio here is just as strong as the video. Rear channels are used often to help build atmosphere and ambience not just with sound effect placement but just as often by spreading out the score in some interesting ways. The dialogue remains clear and audible throughout, even when certain lines of dialogue are whispered, and the levels are perfectly balanced. There’s nice, strong bass response when the movie calls for it but never to the point where it buries things in the mix. There are no problems here, the movie sounds great.

    Aside from a few previews that play before the menus load, the only extra on the disc is a twelve minute interview with Severin Fiala and Veronika Frank who speak (in German with English subtitles) about the concepts behind the story, their influences, casting the picture and a fair bit more. It’s interesting enough but a full commentary would have been welcome.

    The Final Word:

    Goodnight Mommy is twisted stuff, but it’s very well done. The camera work is great, the performances from the three leads are fantastic and the minimal effects work strong enough to count. There is one misstep along the way that knocks the movie off of its rails for a few minutes but outside of that this is solid stuff. Anchor Bay’s Blu-ray isn’t loaded with extras but it does look and sound very good.

    Click on the images below for full sized Blu-ray screen caps!

    Comments 2 Comments
    1. Andrew Monroe's Avatar
      Andrew Monroe -
      I thought this was pretty fascinating and creepy, it'll be interesting to see how it plays on second viewing. I will say though, I think they cribbed a major plot point from SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER..... ----- THE OTHER.
    1. Matt H.'s Avatar
      Matt H. -
      Ian, misstep=Red Cross? If so, I agree that was an awful scene. I was a little disappointed with this one. I dunno, maybe it would've played better if it was made 10 years earlier. Seemed a bit obvious to me. SPOILER SPOILER SPOILER It also reminded me of the far superior TALE OF TWO SISTERS.