Goodnight Mommy is a Swedish horror/thriller that was originally released in 2014. The movie follows two young twins as they spend their summer in the remote Swedish countryside. They’re seen early on celebrating a summer full of innocent fun with laughter, sunshine and smiles. One day, their mother returns home having gone through cosmetic surgery on her face. Her face is bandaged beyond recognition. Is she who she really says she is? After some suspicious activity, the two boys begin to question her identity. Is she someone that we can trust? Alternatively, can the perspective from the boys be trusted?
There’s not too much more I can say about the plot, as the story takes you for a few twists and turns as akin to horror movies. I will say this though, that within 6 minutes of the movie, you could already tell what the major twist of the story will be. And it’s mostly because it’s nothing that you haven’t already seen before. However, the twist itself is not the point; even the big reveal at the end is nonchalant and anticlimactic when the curtain is pulled away. Rather, it’s more about the storytelling, leading you into their lives, getting you to feel for the characters.
And it’s this aspect where the movie achieves its successes. We, the viewers, are flipflopped the further the story goes. We’re just not sure who we can trust. In this way, the movie follows a similar beat to that of Gone Girl, where the viewer bounces between who is the protagonist and antagonist. Whereas Gone Girl felt like a roller coaster of emotions, Goodnight Mommy feels more like one slow moving descent into an abyss of uncertainty.
For this reason, I think the movie mostly works. The first two-thirds of the movie hooks you with its atmosphere and its escalating tension and mystery. The movie is plodding and doesn’t go for the cheap thrills, unlike most modern American horror movies.
However, the movie isn’t without its flaws, and it’s in the third act where it feels like things fall apart. There’s a scene in the third act where random visitors from the Red Cross appear at the family’s home seeking donations. You can understand how they used the scene to try and build tension, but their appearance comes so far out of left field that it shifts the tone that they took their time in setting up. And from there, it sort of falls apart.
The movie ends and doesn’t address every question. This may seem frustrating to some, but the questions are small, and are minor to the bigger picture.
Recent previews have dubbed it as the “scariest movie ever made”, but I wouldn’t hold those statements to any regard. It’s probably more creepy than scary, but even if you consider it scary, I’m sure you’ve seen scarier.
As a horror geek, it’s worth checking out, otherwise, it’s nothing that you haven’t already seen. Later geeks!