My quintessential weekday night: my roommate and I, securely couch-ridden, scrolling through Apple TV movie selections aimlessly. Given the fact that her aversion to horror is tantamount only to the overwhelming feeling of nausea I experience during a rom-com, selecting a title we both agree upon can take as long as the duration of a feature film. As I tend to steer clear of movies themed in matricide, I had bypassed the seemingly demonic twins residing on the cover of Goodnight Mommy on more than one occasion. Tonight, however, I was feeling a little frisky and “persuaded” (aka forced) my roommate to watch it with me. I watched the trailer before diving into the film, but, worried that even a hint of precognition would abruptly spark her interest in household chores, I decided against letting her see it, and selected “rent” without consultation. Glancing in her direction, briefly noting that pallor of her cheeks, I assured her, “It’ll be fine! It’s just a thriller!” The film takes place in the modern home of twins, Elias and Lukas (Elias and Lukas Schwarz) and their mother (Susanne Wuest), who reside in the country. Filmed in Austria, the film is in German with English subtitles. Aesthetically, the film comes alive for the viewer with the use of vivid color schemes, alluring architecture, an appealing cast, and cringe-worthy special effects; however, the visual acuity of the film takes a backseat to its clever and controlling plotline. Albeit beautifully filmed and brilliantly cast, what makes this film commendable is the fact that it is not so much a movie, as it is a commentary on the ability of feature film to psychologically manipulate its viewers. From the start, the narrative of the movie is purposely vague, yet descriptive enough to lead viewers on a certain path while still allowing them to draw their own conclusions. Upon reading the short blurb accompanying the film, the only piece of knowledge evident from the get-go is that twin boys are troubled and unconvinced that their heavily bandaged mother is who she claims to be following a face-changing cosmetic procedure. With this information, the blind viewer easily buys into the seemingly evident plotline following the boys’ skepticism, which is further perpetuated by prolonged stares, bouts of awkward silence, and displaced aggression. Not to mention the fact that, if you watched the trailer like I did, you’ve been further conditioned into thinking that the mother, due to some clever editing, is some type of roach-eating cyborg. The movie is filmed solely from the perspective of the twins and enables us to see the situation solely through their lens – which, with the help of the bandaged mother eerily lurking behind every corner, constantly imposing previously “unheard of” demands, is a heavily plausible one. There are countless times throughout the movie that the viewer is meant to take sides with Elias and Lukas. We are meant to assume the mother figure is cruel when she pretends Lukas does not exist: she speaks only to Elias and refuses to acknowledge Lukas, sometimes going as far as to withhold food from him. Given that the reason for her cosmetic surgery is unknown, we easily believe the boys’ insinuation that their mother has been replaced by someone unknown, especially when the pair questions her about an old photograph depicting two women similarly dressed, thus, making the assumption that some type of long-lost evil twin has come to take revenge on the family. As the film escalades, all of these instances, in combination with the unthinkable acts of torture the boys are willing to commit to make this woman confess her identity, play a role in the perpetuation of the assumed plotline. The film pieces everything together seamlessly; it beautifully forces the viewer to buy into a biased perspective while simultaneously keeping the audience guessing for the duration. Hats off to the film’s directors and screenwriters (Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz) on their keen attention to detail; from the ambiguity of the chosen description to the clever editing of the trailer, and all of the freakiness in between, these two don’t miss a trick in the realm of psychological manipulation. Cheers to you both; I commend you in your ability to deceive a horror connoisseur and her apprentice alike! Share this:TweetShare on TumblrLike this:Like Loading... Related Leave a Reply Cancel ReplyYou must be logged in to post a comment.