Sunday, October 16, 2022

Goodnight Mommy

Movie Name:
Goodnight Mommy
Year of Release: 2022
Director: Matt Sobel
Starring: Naomi Watts, Cameron Crovetti, Nicholas Crovetti, Peter Hermann, Jeremy Bobb, Crystal Lucas-Perry
Genre: Drama, Horror
Score out of ten (whole numbers only): 5
Watch it on Amazon Prime

Synopsis and Review
"Goodnight Mommy" has the distinction of being Matt Sobel's sophomore feature, and also a remake of a very well received Austrian film with the same name from directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala. The film focuses its narrative on twin brothers Elias and Lukas who are coming to their mother's home to spend some time with her. Their parents have separated/divorced, and this is the first time they have seen her in a while. Much to their surprise, they find her wearing an almost all concealing face mask, since she communicates to them she has had some surgery to refresh herself up. The boys notice her behavior seems different, since she doesn't want to spend much time with them, imposes a series of rules, which includes not going to her room or the barn in the back, and generally speaking, just keep low energy. They soon suspect the person behind the mask is not their mother at all, a suspicion which becomes more noticeable when they verify that the person living with them has blue eyes whereas their mother has green eyes (at least according to a headshot she has in her house). Terrified, they flee and seek the help from neighbors, only to realize that the nearest house of those same neighbors is actually deserted. Some state troopers find them and return them to their mother's house, who by then has taken off the face mask. As the brothers try to survive the situation, things quickly escalate. 
"Goodnight Mommy" benefits from the fact that Matt Sobel efficiently characterizes the relationship between the twin brothers as one filled with complicity, support and to a certain extent, joy. The director also successfully builds and captures the tension that exists in the household, in the damaged relationship between the somewhat absent mother and their children. While the lack of additional context in what caused the rift and distance between the mother and their children allows for the ambiguity in which the narrative lives to keep the audience engaged, as the events unfurl, there are somewhat sudden changes of attitude, particularly from Naomi Watts' mother character that are a bit more surprising (and don't necessarily feel the most logical). While the film has a third act which seems almost identical to the reveal moment from a M. Night Shyamalan's feature, it fails to resonate quite as strongly since for the most part of the narrative the mother character was always presented in a repetitively unique fashion, without deviating much from a repetitive pattern. By the time we start to understand a bit more about who she is, and what has driven her, the film is nearing its end, and by then the final reveal is front and center in the narrative. All this to say, the peeling of the mask which occurs with that enigmatic character could have occurred more progressively, so the dimension of that character was more vividly understood. As it is, the film comes across as a somewhat taut and polished B-movie, which takes a not entirely unexpected final turn. The always excellent Naomi Watts manages to keep the film afloat, with good support from both Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti. The production team is solid, featuring the cinematography from Alexander Dynan and production design from Mary Lena Colston. Watchable but forgettable.