Tuesday, 1 March 2016


One of the most hyped horror films of the past year has been the Austrian psychological horror flick, Ich Seh Ich Seh aka Goodnight Mommy.
Filmed back in 2014, UK audiences will finally get the chance to check out Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz's movie on 4 March.
Is this a creepy masterpiece that is worth the wait?

Read on...


Dir: Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz

Starring: Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz, Lukas Schwarz

SPEEDY SYNOPSIS: I'll try not to spoil too much here, but continue at your own risk.

Nine-old-twin brothers Elias (Schwarz) and Lukas (Schwarz) lead a peaceful existance, playing in the woods surrounding their pretty cabin, racing from the picturesque cornfields and swimming in the idyllic nearby lake.However, life is not quite as perfect as it seems.

When their mother (Wuest) returns from hospital, having undergone surgery that leaves her whole face swathed in bandages, the boys find things become darker – quite literally.
After Mother orders them to keep the blinds and curtains drawn, to remain silent and telling them that they absolutely cannot bring anything into the house from outside, her behaviour worsens.
Cold and cruel to the boys — especially Lukas who she totally neglects — she is entirely different to the mother they knew from before her operation.
As the boys try to stay out of her way and care for their collection of hissing cockroaches a chilling realisation starts to dawn in their minds — what if the person under the bandages isn't their mother after all?

THE BEST BITS (mild spoiler warning):
When it comes to creepy atmosphere and visuals, there are few movies produced over the last decade that come close to Goodnight Mommy. It looks, putting it simply, absolutely beautiful. From the striking lake house with its huge windows and the leafy surrounding countryside to the phantom-like appearance of the bandaged Mommy, the visuals are stunning.
A large part of this is undoubtedly due to the impressive cinematography of Martin Gschlacht, but there are plenty of touches in both the costumes and set decoration that also prove arresting for the eye. The interior of the home is stark, white, sterile, mirroring the hospital from which Mommy has returned, while vague, blurry outlines of female figures on the artwork that adorns the walls reflects the theme of obscured identity running through the film, a theme heightened with some decidely disturbing masks in the film's closing moments.
What's more there is a clever use of nature and animals to make a strong impact throughout the film, from the sweet but unkempt cat to the frankly horrible hissing cockroaches that the boys keep as pets. Even the wallpaper in some rooms seems to echo the crawling skittering insects.
The bandaged look of Wuest's character is haunting and decidedly chilling, conjuring up classic horror imagery from the likes of The Invisible Man or The Mummy (The Mommy?), but it is her impressively icy performance that is most terrifying. Aloof, yet eerily dependent on her boys, Mommy is a character who hides behind so much more than surgical gauze — she is clearly a damaged individual and it becones very uncomfortable to watch the way in which the character mistreats her sons. Wuest takes the character on quite the journey, taking her from a monstrous antagonist to something else.
It's excellent work.
Equally excellent are the young Schwarz brothers who walk the fine line between sympathetic and creepy admirably. The boys give assured performances, wide-eyed or grim-faced according to the requirements of the scene, and absolutely nail their roles.
I mentioned that the film is often uncomfortable to view, and this is very much by design. The framing and aesthetics are surgically precise, the camera often unsettlingly static. With a clever use of close ups to heighten the claustrophobia of the boys trapped within the house and wide angles to reinforce the isolation, Fiala and Franz know exactly how to leave an audience squirming in their seat.
They keep the sense of dread mounting throughout, slowly and patiently spinning a web around the audience, before suddenly delivering a violent jolt.
Nowhere is this more apparent than in the stomach-churning final sequence.
The shocking turn the plot takes is genuinely disturbing, leading to a lengthy harrowing sequence that is as hard-hitting as they come. Credit must go to writers/directors Fiala and Franz for making the ballsy decision to run the plot down this particularly dark rabbit hole, plus for pulling no punches as they bring the story to life onscreen.
The effects work during this sequence is also to be praised — it's vile and will leave you grimacing at the screen, and I mean this in the very best way.

THE WORST BITS (mild spoiler warning): With a towering central performance and eye-catching visuals, not to mention a ruthlessly cultivated sense of dread throughout, Goodnight Mommy should be an instant classic. Sadly, it is let down by a major flaw.
The plot of Goodnight Mommy hangs on a pretty huge plot twist that is revealed during the final act — except it isn't.
The twist is so heavily foreshadowed that it's made GLARINGLY obvious within 10 minutes of the film starting. It's not the most original reveal either, so it doesn't take much to guess what it might be, but the film absolutely tips its hand far too soon. Honestly, it really took the shine off the film for me, as it came across as ridiculously clumsy in a film where every other aspect is meticulously and exquisitely well executed.
I know some readers will not mind this, but I found myself thinking 'Well, this is too obvious, there'll be a double-twist or some major revelation to spring from this.'
I was wrong.
Instead I spent over an hour waiting for the shoe to drop, before the movie hurriedly dived into the bloody conclusion.
Which brings me to another potential issue — pacing. I like a film that has the patience to craft a story, building atmosphere throughout. However, Goodnight Mommy is very slow moving and some may find themselves fidgeting in their seats — especially when they have already worked out where the story is heading.
As bizarre as it may sound following these criticisms, the final potential problem for viewers is how extreme the movie gets. It goes to a horribly violent, gory and sadistic place, which may well be too much for horror fans who prefer teen friendly jump scares and cartoonish slasher kills. Playing with the taboo subject of children and violence, viewers need to be warned.
Goodnight Mommy is not for the squeamish.

THE VERDICT: Both incredibly well made but hobbled by a wholly avoidable flaw, Goodnight Mommy is quite a frustrating viewing experience.
There's so much to love here, but by god that predictable plot twist really robs the film of so much of its impact and takes away a lot of an audience's goodwill towards it.
Ultimately, if you want to be unsettled and witness a masterclass in shooting a horror movie, you need to see Goodnight Mommy. Just be mindful of its shortcomings before you do.

If you haven’t already, do please check out and like the Hickey’s House of Horrors Facebook page, which you can find here. It gives you a nice quick link to any new posts on this blog, plus regular news updates from around the web. I check the Internet so you don’t have to! Alternatively, follow me on twitter: The House@HickeysHorrors

Until next time, I hope you enjoyed your stay.

No comments:

Post a Comment