31 Favorites #19: Goodnight Mommy


Goodnight Mommy is about a pair of twins who, after their mother returns home from getting major reconstructive surgery, begin to question her true identity.

I recently saw Goodnight Mommy, and as soon as the screen went to black and the ending credits started rolling, I knew it would make it onto my list of 31 Favorites.  To say that it was a surprise to me just how dark this movie got is an understatement. Don’t be fooled by the merely “spooky” trailers – Goodnight Mommy is a much, much nastier piece of work than those clips let on.

While the film is rooted in psychological horror, there’s a significant part of the movie that is, frankly, pretty brutal. The violence, which is admittedly mild in comparison to many contemporary horror films, is incredibly intimate and unsettling in its presentation. So much so, that the couple sitting next to me to walked out of the theater.

Besides the scenes of brutality, the idea that your own child would believe you to be an imposter is, frankly, horrifying. While many horror fans complained about the obviousness of the film's "twist," the manner in which the narrative is shaped leaves plenty of room for questions that will haunt you long after the film is over.

Three Things I Love About It:

  1. The creative way in which the directors use the twins' perspective to manipulate our feelings about what's happening. Later in the film, this perspective shifts, and it's so subtle you almost don't realize it's happened until after the film is over.
  2. I just love love love movies like this - spare, still, artsy, terrifying. Though it seems we're hitting a trend with slow, psychological horror with the release of films like "The Babadook," and the hotly anticipated film "The Witch" coming up on the horizon, I still believe it takes quite a brave soul to release a film like this in today's horror climate.
  3. Certain images remain with me weeks after seeing the film - a farmer burning his fields, a man wandering through an empty village, a cave full of bones. It's a lush, gorgeous film that, despite all of its beauty, still manages to mess with your head.