Goodnight Mommy: Totally Worth A Redbox Rental

Goodnight Mommy

Suspense + Horror = Goodnight Mommy

I’ll admit, as a self proclaimed TV show and film buff, the first time I learned of Goodnight Mommy was during my routine Redbox Tuesday search. Every Tuesday, Redbox comes out with a bunch of new rentals that you didn’t get a chance to watch in theaters and didn’t feel like spending the extra cash renting or purchasing via OnDemand. Redbox lets you rent for cheap, like a dollar and some change. I say, “some change” because since they’ve become popular they’ve raised their prices a bit, but you’re still saving considering how expensive it is to view the same movie on a different outlet.

I digress, so let’s get back to the movie shall we? Goodnight Mommy was initially a questionable rental, in my opinion. The movie trailer image didn’t sell me on the storyline, but I rented it because I decided to not read the synopsis and I didn’t allow the low-resolution image of twins washed red lighting as if it was blood affect my decision one way or another. In my opinion, the movie packaging doesn’t do the movie justice. Instead, it gives off a B-movie aura and begs customers to skip it, altogether.

I recognize that sometimes packaging isn’t perfect, or that there was much of a marketing budget available, and that I should judge a movie after I watch it. So, I was definitely surprised by the impact the German-language film made on me. Goodnight Mommy starts out with plenty of suspenseful questions. For example, we don’t know much about the characters except that the mother’s face and head is bandaged and she has twin boys who are apprehensive of her.

The movie is an illusion, provoking a handsome display of cinematic techniques that utilize film noir, lighting and oblique camera angles to advance the creepiness factor of the plot. We are moved by the cinematography, with every wide angle, obtuse, or POV of a character being dragged on the ground. The viewer finds herself a part of the action and aware of how twin boys feel about their mother, whom they are suspicious of, and wondering the entire time where their “real mother” is at. As the wonder continues, their need to take matters into their own hands increases and so does the disturbing turn of events.

We know that something must have happened in order for Mommy (Susanne Wuest) to come home bandaged up, but the twin don’t seem to comprehend why. The first impression we get as the audience is that this bandaged mother’s kids are scared of her. She looks like a monster and comes across like a cold, heartless one at that. She doesn’t seem like a real mother who would care for her children regardless of what she went through. A real mother would sacrifice her own comfort for the sake of her own children, to ensure they are taken care of, fed, and adjusted to new circumstances.

Lukas (Lukas Schwartz) and Elias (Elias Schwartz) are the twins who find themselves suspicious of the bandaged mother that just returned from undergoing reconstructive surgery. Yet the audience is left in the dark, except for maybe a hint that there was some accident. Still, while the mother returns home needing rest, she ignores her sons and sleeps. Lucas and Elias are left to feed, entertain, and take care of themselves to the extent that they play a recording of their mother singing them a goodnight song, which of course recorded prior to her surgery.

Goodnight Mommy does a great job at shooting the entire film from the perspective of a couple of pre-adolescent children who desperately yearn for their mother to come home. Children need consistency, they need routine and they need to know that their mother and father or guardian will be there just as they’ve always expected.

The denouement is quite shocking, as we don’t expect the ending and we are surprisingly left to rewind in our minds the entire movie. Goodnight Mommy is a psychological thriller, one that requires all of us viewing to reflect upon our own family. There is no such thing as a perfect family, but Goodnight Mommy is unique in that it’s not American. It’s not a movie that the U.S. would ordinarily greenlight, and that’s the beauty of foreign films.

Goodnight Mommy is a German foreign film with a refreshing take on storytelling, allowing the audience to sympathize with Lukas and Elias before realizing who they really should be sympathizing with.

About Sonyo Estavillo

I am a creative professional with extensive project experience from concept to development (scripted and non-scripted). My talents are diverse and include: producing, directing, production management, videography, social media/viral marketing, research, non-linear editing, story development, and content writing. *Masters in Television, Radio, & Film @ Newhouse, Syracuse University *Bachelors in Film Production @ CSULB

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