Thursday, April 14, 2016

The Overlook Theatre Reviews: Goodnight Mommy

of 7 viewers "Liked" "Goodnight Mommy" (Austrian, 2015)
Here's what the creatures had to say:

Lord Battle - "Arthouse Horror as a sub-genre has come to imply low-brow or taboo subject matter that, through the medium of film, will transcend into something enlightening or thought provoking. The problem with these expectations is that all horror adheres to ancient tropes that long ago bubbled up from the genres primordial ooze, which horror fans understand and forgive. Yet promise more than your run of the mill scare and the film will implode on a twist ending. Not until after my second viewing of Goodnight Mommy was I free of the hope and expectation to divert from the inevitable reveal and ended up thoroughly enjoying this beautiful film.” - 4 Stars

Math Mage - "Boring torture porn with a "twist" ending made obvious in the first 5 minutes." - 0 Stars (Default 1)

Dabbles - "This movie was shot beautifully but there was so much time spent on a point that I already figured out. So I really don't know what to say. WTF happened to the cat?" - 3 Stars

Huntress - "Something about Goodnight Mommy disturbed me like no other movie has. Maybe it was the endless isolation surrounding the family, or the severely blurred line between fantasy and reality, or even the fact that I've imagined having two sons myself. I was surprised to find myself siding with the twins the first time I watched this film. My strongest recommendation would be to watch Goodnight Mommy at least twice." - 4.5 Stars

The Berkeley Blazer - "Goodnight Mommy was so skillfully executed in terms of its tone and cinematic lyricism that the shit ending and goofily gimmicky plot twist didn't really bother me because up until the final "revelation" I was by turns repulsed by the cruelty of the situation and yet found a kind of feral transcendence in the two fascinating brothers that roam these Edenic Austrian woods. The titular mommy also must be given credit for her portrayal of a woman driven to madness; there is such monstrosity it her desperation that she unseats us from ourselves with just a half-concealed stare. I probably should give this another half star but I still feel the disappointment of the ending, especially when I think about how many cool pathways this otherwise brilliant film could have gone down." - 3.5 Stars

Creature of the ComiCombs - "The first thing you'll notice about Goodnight Mommy is that it's a very pretty one to watch. This was an interesting movie because everyone had a different experience and take on it when it was over. Mine was overall positive, some parts dragged on a little bit as I was waiting for the reveal but I enjoyed this. It's definitely worth checking out. A cool premise and a visually pretty one." - 3.5 Stars

The Impostor - "Goodnight Mommy takes you on a disturbing thrill ride. Its creepy slow build and mystery kept me intrigued. I was guessing the outcome since the opening scenes, which are beautifully shot. Despite taking place mostly in the day, the film felt very dark and eerie. The three main actors carried their roles well, especially since there is little dialog in the film but plays through mostly actions. Overall I really enjoyed this chilling cinematic experience. I'd definitely recommend it." - 4 Stars

The Overlook Theatre Final Rating*
(Below is for after you've seen the film)

Goodnight Mommy opens with playback of a vintage TV special. It shows a very Hollywood-esque matronly display as a lady sings a lullabye to what seems like a dozen children, who obviously adore her. This shot has now set the stage for expectations of reality which is normally contrasted against a true and harsh reality in the next scene. The beauty of Goodnight Mommy is that they play against this Arthouse Horror expectation and instantly throw us into another, darker fantasy.

The twins running through the beautiful Austrian wilderness is a brilliant juxtaposition, almost capturing an Amblin-esque family fun vibe. From the corn maze to the squishy mud ground and finally to the skull covered dungeon, (or atleast what I as a child would have called a dungeon), it becomes apparent that these young boys are dreaming up their own world.

This dark fantasy theme wasn’t apparent to me at all the first time I viewed this film and on the second viewing another thing becomes blaringly clear; Elias was the shy one of the two boys and has now conjured up his deceased brother to act as his stronger half once again. This revelation is shocking on its own but when we get a glimpse at the family life that has lead Elias down this path, it's outright horrific.

To be fair, there is no evidence that our now scary mummy mom was ever a good mother and I disbelieve that the recording the boys play is an actual message. I think it’s yet another TV clip that they fantasize is real.

The decorations in the house spell out the story of an incredibly vain person, unhappy with her nose she adorns her walls with pictures of her profile, which is a classic petite figure.

Framed by standards of beauty

As the film progresses we start to see that maybe she’s not a vain absent parent, but actually acts very child like, ordering dozens of frozen pizzas for dinner, shucking responsibility by pretending to sleep, and disciplining her child with playground bully style wrestling. Not to mention the disturbing acceptance of keeping cockroaches as pets over a cat, simply because bugs don't require any level of care and there is no social stigma if they die. Still, things obviously weren’t always like this, there is a photo album showing her priority was once her happy family and an incident or perhaps just a death tore that apart.

But whatever terrible event occurred, we are left to our own devices to decide. The true horror actually does lie within our anti climactic reveal, as the family steeped in fantasy is confronted with their honest realities. The surviving child has been neglected in his moment of need and is now following a mental projection of his dead brother, who is telling him to do terrible things. This makes the torture scenes in Goodnight Mommy particularly interesting because of the childlike execution.

My one true narrative complaint is that the film was wrapped up nicely with the complete destruction of their reality as the flames both devour their lives and clean the earth of their madness. But sadly this was not the last moment of the film. Still this complaint is far less severe than my initial reaction to the reveal of the dead twin.

- Lord Battle

*Based on the star ratings turned in by character reviewers, others viewed and got to "Dislike" or "Like" but that does not effect the rating.

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