Starring Lukas & Elias Schwartz, Susanne Wuest. Directed by Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala. (2014, 100 min). ANCHOR BAY
That old saying, the journey is more important than the destination, certainly applies to movies like Goodnight Mommy.
The journey in this Austrian horror film is certainly a strange one. Two twin boys' mother returns home after a horrific accident which has left her face covered in bandages. Her subsequent odd - almost abusive - behavior has them suspecting she's not their real mother at all, and they take measures to find out the truth. Goodnight Mommy is a moody, surreal film with a lot of deliberately ambiguous moments which have us wondering who the true villain is, and suggesting a big plot reveal that will tie everything together. For the most part, though the journey isn't necessarily a fun one, it's fairly fascinating, anchored by a couple of frankly-unnerving performances by Lukas & Elias Schwartz as the twins.
The destination, however, is sort-of a letdown. First of all, the final act descends into minor torture porn which, while suitably disturbing, negates the eerie tone the directors worked so hard to establish early on. Second, sharp-eyed horror fans will likely predict the big twist ending long before it's actually revealed (maybe even within the film's first few minutes).
Despite all that, Goodnight Mommy is never dull (the worst sin a horror film can commit). Writer/directors Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala manage to instill a good amount of dread in the viewer with a minimum of exposition, relying on the creepy imagery and characters' actions to propel the story forward. While there aren't a lot of surprises, it's a journey worth taking at least once.