Here we have a classic case of “great trailer, poor movie.” The trailer for Goodnight, Mommy, the Austrian film now playing in select theatres near you, is an unsettling piece of work. However, this trailer is not indicative of the film it promotes. In fact, one of the scenes shown in the trailer does not occur at all – at least not in the way it’s been digitally altered to play out.
Originally released in 2014 under its native title, Ich Seh, Ich Seh, the film has a twist that is so bluntly telegraphed in the first five minutes that one has to assume it’s not really a twist at all and that Ich Seh, Ich Seh, is not a horror film but a meditation on loss and parental neglect. If so, it could have saved itself 90 minutes of establishing shots and closeups of fidgety children and spent its budget on a really big Cadbury egg, or something equally frivolous and enjoyable. Then again, I’m willing to accept there might be Austrian subtext I’m just not getting here.
The point is, Goodnight, Mommy, much like It Follows (an indie horror released earlier this year), would have made a creepy short film – something in the 15-20 minute range. But when all you have is one idea, the loveliest cinematography in the world will not save the padding that is your piss-poor script.
Allow me to offer you a helpful analogy.
You know when you’ve had a long day at work or school or eating sand and you come home and all you want to do is just chill out and sit on the couch in your underpants but there’s someone you don’t know in your apartment who won’t stop talking about telephone books and how it’s a shame that telephone books are so obsolete now – even though this observation has been had by literally anyone with access to the internet in the last decade – but you don’t want to tell them to leave because they’re speaking with a foreign accent and you don’t want to be insensitive but GODDAMN THAT WAS A LOT OF WORK AND/OR SCHOOL AND/OR SAND THAT YOU HAD TO EAT – so you let them finish, but you’re really bitchy about it and when they’re gone you realize you hate your apartment and you’re developing a pimple in a hard-to-reach place? That is what watching Goodnight, Mommy is like. That is exactly what watching Goodnight Mommy is like. I do not recommend watching Goodnight, Mommy. Not even once.
Goodnight, Mommy (2015)
Directed by Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala