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Austrian thriller film will have you crying for ‘Mommy’

Eerie countryside atmosphere, impeccable cast set the tone for tragic horror flick

Sitting down in the Cable Car Cinema to watch “Goodnight Mommy,” audience members should prepare themselves to be immersed in a goosebump-evoking psychological thriller. The film delivers a horrifyingly engaging plot — impressive considering the film is in German with English subtitles. The storyline takes the audience on a ride full of sympathy and fear, pity and disillusionment.

The Austrian film opens with a “Children of the Corn”-like scene of two adolescent twin boys playing in the countryside. The boys walk through a corn field and a bog to a pitch-black tunnel where one boy, Lukas, disappears into the shadows. Next, the two boys are seen back home playing when their mother appears, her face covered in bandages and looking like a mummy. She unnecessarily reprimands the boys, producing a cold, on-edge atmosphere that permeates the following scenes. Her demeanor leaves the boys wondering if Mama is really their mother.

Through the rest of the movie Mama grows more hostile, and the boys grow more resourceful in their attempts to figure out her true identity. Unforeseen twists enthrall the audience on the way to a thrilling and tragic climax.

The film revolves around three main characters: Lukas, Elias and Mama. The actors were impeccably cast and portrayed their roles to a tee. The fictional twins of the movie were played by actual twins — Lukas and Elias Schwarz. Their bond as twins is evident in the film and will leave viewers wondering whether the boys were great actors or just great brothers. Mama was portrayed by Susanne Wuest, who wonderfully depicted her scenes of desperation and sternness but slightly missed the mark when it came to acting motherly.

Directors and screenwriters Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala contrast key moments of silence with eerie sounds. They utilize the minimalist set, which includes only a house, to bring the viewers’ focus to the characters. “Goodnight Mommy” was chosen as Austria’s submission for Best Foreign Language Film at the 2016 Academy Awards.

“Goodnight Mommy” will keep you on the edge of your seat and have you calling your mom as soon as the credits roll.


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