Written and directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, Goodbye Mommy is the story of of twin boys Lukas and Elias, whose mother has recently returned from undergoing some pretty intense plastic surgery. The film reminded me of the production design of Funny Game, the harrowing mother and son relationship of The Babadook and the unrelenting torment of Martyrs.
With no real introduction, the film starts with a bandaged mother, who is absolutely terrifying in her mannerisms and the way she avoids contact with the camera. The house is largely shrouded in darkness at the demand of this mysterious character, and the numerous pieces of art scattered around the house are eerie; out of focus and ever-menacing.
The story features at its core a broken family, which feels like a nod to the existing canon of horror movies based upon orphaned or fostered children. This adds to the film's chill factor, as whether this bandaged figure is the children's mother or not, something is well and truly amiss...
Without giving too much away, it's fair to say that Goodnight Mommy is a film of two halves, with chills and squirms a-plenty as well as an utterly believeable twist.
If you're a fan of Michael Haneke, in particular Funny Games, there is plenty here to enjoy. If you found the mother-son relationship in The Babadook unsettling and gut wrenching, there is a level of depth with similar emotional engagement here. Slowly, but surely the horror genre seems to be finding its feet again.
Not spooked yet? Book tickets to see Goodnight Mommy at FACT.