Two twin brothers arrive at their mother’s country home to find her face covered in bandages due to cosmetic surgery. As her behavior grows unusual and erratic, the boys begin to wonder if the woman behind the bandages is really their mother. This is the premise of Goodnight Mommy, a new psychological horror film streaming on Prime Video. This is a remake of the 2014 Austrian movie of the same name. While it’s not the most necessary retelling of an international horror film, this is a serviceably suspenseful film that delivers on the promise of the gripping premise.
Every once in a while, Hollywood remakes an international horror movie. This has happened with films like The Grudge, Shutter, and Suspiria. This is the latest knockoff made for American audience members who don’t want to read subtitles. All things considered, the remake moves at a surprisingly fast pace. The twins, Elias and Lucas, get dropped off at their mother’s house very early on and immediately notice something isn’t right. The film wastes no time getting into the fascinating mystery, and from there, it doubles down.
Goodnight Mommy does a superb job of building up the mystery surrounding what is going on in the characters’ minds. It uses silence very well to pull you to the edge of your seat as you wonder whether this woman is really the boys’ mother. This movie often feels similar to The Visit, another movie about two siblings staying over with their relatives only to find their erratic behavior leads to a dark secret. While this isn’t on that thriller’s level — due to a general lack of a solid directorial style — there is a lot to appreciate about this film, especially from the perspective of a person who has not seen the original.
Much of Goodnight Mommy focuses on the fear of being a part of this family. There is a lot of character drama surrounding these young boys who have been separated from their mother and the emotional strain that has put on their relationship. The distance between them is a significant reason that the boys are inclined to believe that she is not their mother. As a result of this gripping mystery, you are always left with a sense of dread in the pit of your stomach, as it feels like our two leads are in danger for the entire runtime.
Naomi Watts is no stranger to appearing in American remakes of international horror films — one of her breakout roles was in The Ring. She does an excellent job of pulling off this role. Her presence onscreen creates an uncomfortable fear, not because she appears scary in her mask, but because her behavior and actions are terrifying. The Crovetti brothers are also phenomenal, as they star in this picture and ground it in authentic performances. The screenplay also does a great job of having the two leads make intelligent decisions throughout the film.
However, there are a few rough edges in this film. The movie features a few red herring dream sequences, which feel strangely crafted in retrospect. Where Goodnight Mommy truly falls flat is the ending, where the audience receives answers for what has been going on. The problem is that it doesn’t feel satisfying. It feels sudden and distant from the rest of the story, not creating a satisfying payoff for everything set up. You can imagine how Goodnight Mommy is an unnecessary remake of an international horror film through a lot of the movie’s execution. Still, the movie offers enough unpredictability in its storytelling to create a fun, thrilling experience.
As ComingSoon’s review policy explains, a score of 6 equates to “Decent.” It fails to reach its full potential and is a run-of-the-mill experience.
Disclosure: The critic attended the red carpet premiere for ComingSoon’s Goodnight Mommy review.