This month on the blog collab we’re doing psychologically chilling horror with a feminist slant – and what better to represent our theme than this sinister little number? Put these boys on the top ten horror twin list alongside the Grady girls, STAT.

Twin boys move to a new house with their mother after she has face-changing cosmetic surgery, but under the bandages is someone the boys don’t recognize.

Film: Goodnight Mommy (2014)

*Spoilers*

Lukas and Elias’ mother returns home from hospital after what looks like extensive cosmetic work. The boys, who are nine, are shocked by her battered appearance but are more perturbed by the bizarre new rules she’s put in place – and her uncharacteristic behaviour.

First off she refuses to address Lukas, speaking only to Elias – insists on pure quiet around the house – and will not allow visitors. She needs time to heal from her operation which leaves the boys mostly to their own devices. Which is fine until they misbehave and Mum punishes them in a way they’re sure their real mother wouldn’t.

The boys land on the conclusion that the bandaged woman in their house is an impostor, which is further exacerbated by the discovery of a photograph that shows their mother with a similar looking woman. When they run away to a church, the priest delivers them right back to their house, believing their mother when she tells him she is their mother. She also tells him things have been hard for them all lately. Clues to this point suggest the boys’ parents have split, and perhaps not amicably given he’s never around.

Alas, nothing Mum does can convince the boys that she is in fact their true mother – despite their demands that she do so by naming Lukas’ favourite song – and eventually they’re forced to take horrifying action. A little side note here but the twins tie their mother to her bed and torture her in increasingly troubling ways – however, when the Red Cross knock at the door and let themselves into the house – they’re *almost* rumbled.

This is by far the scariest part of the film. Imagine one of those charity muggers entering your home uninvited?! What if you were: naked/doing it/having a poo/kissing your new dog on the mouth/eating peanut butter straight out of the jar with your hands? BONE-CHILLING.

Of course things must come to a head and we learn the true family trauma behind Mum’s strange behaviour and the actions of the twins. It’s all at once devastating and desperately sad.

Thoughts

There is something about this film that really evokes something from my childhood. When we were quite young my mum had surgery and returned home needing serious rest. I remember being completely freaked out by her vulnerability and acting out in response to it, which makes me cringe now. While she wasn’t covered in bandages like this mother, it was hard to understand the (temporary) change in the one who cared for us. Little sidenote for you there.

This film is a slow burn in some ways – with an almost clinical veneer. It’s very big on symbolism too – those hissing cockroaches (decay/death?) are EVERYWHERE – and although I assume that we’re expected to be surprised by ‘the twist’, it’s actually quite obvious. I’d seen this before a long time ago and as soon as it started to roll I remembered everything. This actually gave me a better viewing experience as I was more focused on looking for clues, and they delivered.

I think there’s something about the cosmetic surgery side of things that also intrigues me. The mother is a minor television celebrity who obviously needs to look her best onscreen – but the fact she’s put herself through such a major operation (and left her boys alone) makes her seem frivolous and selfish somehow. By the end, understanding what’s happened and piecing together that thread, turns that notion on its head. It does challenge our perceptions of trauma and starting life anew – as well as the after effects of losing someone very close, not just emotionally but physically.

(I realise that last part is very ambiguous but hopefully if you’ve seen the film you get me).

MY RATING: 3.5/5


What are Jill’s thoughts on this one? Would she buy it a new nose or burn its face off with a magnifying class? Find out here.

2 thoughts on “Goodnight Mommy, or: YOU’RE NOT MY REAL MUM!

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