Friday, October 07, 2022

Goodnight Mommy (2014 film)


Written and directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, Ich seh, Ich seh (Goodnight Mommy) is the story of a woman who returns to her home following cosmetic facial surgery to her twin boys who are convinced that the woman at their home is not their mother. The film is a psychological horror as it play into a woman dealing with what had happen to her as well as her twin sons who are troubled by the appearance of this woman claiming to be their mother. Starring Susanne Wuest and the duo of Elias and Lukas Schwarz. Ich seh, Ich seh is an eerie and intoxicating film from Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala.

The film is the story of twin boys whose mother has returned from cosmetic facial surgery as they notice something about her is off as she is distant around them raising their suspicions that the woman in the house isn’t their mother. It’s a film with a simple premise as it largely takes place in and out of the house as it play into these twin boys as they deal with their mother’s return but are wondering what is going on due to her odd behavior. The film’s screenplay by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala is largely straightforward though it opens with a clip from The Trapp Family where a song is sung by the family as it would a key proponent of what Lukas and Elias (Lukas and Elias Schwarz, respectively) are dealing with as it relates to the proof into the identity of their mother (Susanne Wuest). Still, their mother is just trying to deal with the pain of her surgery as she is also acting aggressive over what the boys do as it would relate to their collection of pet cockroaches and other things. Even as she is also dealing with other things including the fact that she was in a serious accident that forced her to get surgery and getting a divorce.

Franz and Fiala’s direction does have elements of style in the way it opens with a clip from The Trapp Family but also this exploration of family dynamics in which twin boys deal with the presence of a woman whom they’re convinced isn’t their mother. Shot on locations in the countryside in Austria including a small town, nearly half of the film is shot in this house as it is this character in the film as it this arty yet kind of posh house with lots of windows where there’s also a lot of blinds to cover the sunlight so that the mother’s skin doesn’t get any damage as she recovers. There are some wide shots to play into some of the locations outside of the house including a pond, corn fields, and other farm area while much of the film inside the house has Franz and Fiala use medium shots and close-ups. Notably as there’s some eerie scenes that play into the suspense and drama that include a terrifying shot of the boys putting a cockroach onto their mother’s bed as she is sleeping with her bandages around her head.

The direction also has this air of intrigue as well as a scene in the room where the mother asks one of the twins to not talk to the other as the camera focuses on what is happening outside of that room from the other twin’s perspective. It is among these moments in the film where it does ask a lot of question into what is going on and why the twins are suspicious towards this woman who could really be their mother. Even as there’s a picture of their mother with a woman who looks like her that adds to this suspicion along with a video as things intensify during the third act where there are also bits of violence in the film. Its climax is also intense as it play into some serious revelations but also something much more between this woman and these two boys inside this house. Overall, Franz and Fiala craft a harrowing and entrancing film about two twin boys being suspicious at the woman who claim to be their mother upon her return from surgery.

Cinematographer Martin Gschlacht does amazing work with the film’s cinematography as it is largely straightforward for some of the daytime exterior scenes on a sunny day along with some low-key usage of shades and shadows for a lot of the film’s interior scenes in the day and night. Editor Michael Palm does excellent work with the editing as it does have bits of style to play into the suspense yet it allows shot to lingers to help play into the dramatic aspects of the film. Production designer Hubert Klausner and Hannes Salt do brilliant work with the look of the house such as the living room with some unique art work as well as the room of the boys and the bedroom that the mother sleeps in. Costume designer Tanja Hausner does fantastic work with the costume as it is largely straightforward from the pajama pants the twins often wear to some of the clothes that the mother wear.

Special effects supervisor Tissi Brandhofer, with visual effects supervisors Klaus Krall and Martin Stegmayer, does terrific work with some of the film’s visual effects with a few involving the cockroaches and some dangerous moments as well as a surreal scene of the mother walking naked through the forest as it play into this idea that she is an imposter. Sound designers Erik Mischijew and Matz Muller do superb work with the sound as it play into the suspense as well as how voices are heard from another room or from outside as it help add to the drama. The film’s music by Olga Neuwirth is wonderful for its low-key ambient music score as it feature some soothing keyboards as it only appears sparsely to play into the dramatic elements of the film.

The casting by Eva Roth is marvelous as it feature some notable small appearances from Hans Echer as a local priest, Elfriede Schatz and Karl Purker as a couple of Red Cross donation collectors, and Georg Deliovsky as a food supplier early in the film. The performances of Elias and Lukas Schwarz in their respective roles as Elias and Lukas are incredible as the twin boys who deal with the presence of a woman claiming to be their mother with the former being conflicted over whether believing this woman while the latter is a bit more confrontational prompting both boys to figure out what is going on as they both exhibit some unique physical traits and movements. Finally, there’s Susanne Wuest in a phenomenal performance as the mother as a woman trying to recover from facial surgery as she also copes with a lot more as well as the strange behavior of her sons where it is clear that she knows that something is off as well where it is a chilling performance of a woman just trying to tell the truth but is also ambiguous in the things she says and does.

Ich seh, Ich seh is a tremendous film from Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala that features great performances from Susanne Wuest and the duo of Elias and Lukas Schwarz. Featuring some eerie visuals, themes of identity and terror, and its haunting setting, the film is definitely an unconventional psychological horror film that play into twin boys dealing with a woman who could really be their mother or someone pretending to be as it also play into other things they’re dealing with. In the end, Ich seh, Ich seh is a sensational film from Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala.

© thevoid99 2022


SJHoneywell said...

You're nicer to this than I was. I see this as a movie that is well made, but where the tricks that are being played are pretty obvious. I felt like I knew what was coming before it happened, so while I liked the way the story was shown and the filmcraft, it felt like amateur storytelling to me.

thevoid99 said...

@SJHoneywell-I'm assuming you haven't seen the remake as I have no interest in that as I did enjoy this as I would like to re-watch as I watched it with my MUBI subscription.

ruth said...

So this is the original movie that's being remade w/ Naomi Watts? I just saw the trailer of that one the other day and it really creeped me out!

thevoid99 said...

@ruth-I have no interest in seeing the remake as I saw this and Timecrimes on MUBI as I thought this was incredible.