Today I’ve got a creepy one for you that isn’t going to surprise anyone – and yet, it will surprise you all the same. You’ll see what I mean. (Or you won’t and that’d be fine too… I mean, on average, I’d bet you half the time people don’t see what I “did there.” Half? Wow, I’m being generous. Like right now…what exactly is happening here? I’m not even sure I’m aware of what I’m doing here. Enough. But I promise, this is all a really great warm up to the headjob that is Goodnight Mommy.) Today’s film is an Austrian movie that just starts out on a mild boil and just turns the audience into a very spicy puree by the end of the stewing. So let’s do this thing, OK? Alright, here we go, Austrian Movie Goodnight Mommy Recommendation!
The film tells the story of. Hrm. Twins… Elias and Lukas. And they are locked away after their mother has had cosmetic surgery, and is attempting to heal. But there is something wrong with the boys. There is something wrong with this situation. The movie sort of reminds me of a darker Hippopotamus? Or maybe GAH! What’s it called for the love of all that is good and holy?!? ——- —– ——-! I remembered! But the title of that particular movie is a spoiler. Let’s get rid of the individuals who haven’t seen this movie yet before we start spoiling stuff. Watch this trailer, then let’s get to the juicy bits of spoiling this movie (wherein I can tell you about the name of that movie I just [email protected]!#%!)
Please know, this movie isn’t going to be for everyone. It gets pretty violent. Got it? Good. (By the way, please sign this waiver form…it’s just the normal paperwork…stufff. THankS for ThAT!) So, yeah, if you want to watch, check it out right here on Hulu. OK. From here on out – I will be just chucking buckets of spoilers at the walls with wild abandon. So if you’d prefer to go into this movie blind then yah.
Goodnight Mommy Walkthrough
OK, so the movie I remembered a half page ago was titled Daniel Isn’t Real. See? The title kinda jumps the shark a bit. And I loved that movie…so if you were into this movie, check that one out as well. OK? Great. So let’s get to this movie shall we?
My first thought as this movie opens is that this thing is just one oppressive corkscrew of a flick just waiting to shiv anyone that gets too close. And those boys? This mother? Holy crap? This house they are living in is just one big blender. And I knew this from the outset. I mean. So did you! Everyone that watches this movie isn’t shocked that one of these two twins is not real. Right? Everyone catches that from the get go. I mean, there was a moment where I flitted back to, oh, maybe she just hates one of them? Is that why she isn’t talking to one of her children? Maybe. Yeah, nope. It’s because Elias is real, and that Lukas is not. We all figured this out at the jump. But we didn’t figure out where this monster of a film was going to take its “obvious” premise. Nope. We didn’t see that coming at all.
So, as I said, as this oppressive household asks us to join them, we realize that the mother, played by Susanne Wuest, has just undergone cosmetic surgery. And she is recovering at her wicked chic modern home. (Which we learn later is up for sale?) We also learn that she is fairly famous while Elias, Lukas, and their mother are playing a game of 20 questions…or the Austrian equivalent there of. But the two(?) kids are very unsettled by their mom’s appearance. I mean, it does look like she’s had a baseball bat taken to her face after all. And early on, we get the idea that Lukas and Elias do not believe this woman is their mother. Wait, what? There is a moment when Lukas and Elias are looking at a family photo album, and most of the images that would have included their father are gone. But there is one photo of their “mother” where she is next to someone else that looks just like her. Here, I’ll show you:
So who’s to say that this is really their mother? Especially seeing as though their mother would never act meanly to them, and heck, ignoring one of them outright? And also, they aren’t allowed to open the curtains, it’s summer after all. They are just certain that their mother would never do something like this to them. This has to be someone else other than their mother.
Assuming that this definitely isn’t their mother – Lukas and Elias head into town in order to talk to the priest. But the priest, who is about as clever as a brick, drives the kids home, and then asks their mother…if she is their mother. Obviously, her answer is… YES. To which, the priest says…fair enough. Here are your kids back. But these kids are having none of it. The priest, and the adult world be darned…they are going to get to the bottom of this problem. So they tie their mother to the bed. They then burn her with a magnifying glass in order to try and get the truth out of her. But continually, she tells them that, yes, she is their mother. The boys, not content with that answer, they seal her mouth with duct tape in order to keep her from screaming. Soon there after, two Red Cross volunteers come asking for donations. The volunteers await the mother’s arrival at the door, but Elias brings a wad of cash from his “mother’s” purse, and gives it to the volunteers in order to send them away.
Mother was able uncover her mouth and scream for help. And while it was ineffective, because the volunteers had already left, it did get her a date with some superglue on her mouth. Which, I have got to say right now, is brilliant writing. Only kids would think this a good solution. I mean, sure, for 3 seconds until the OH YEAH, comes. But for them it came WAY after the glue was already used. Which, is fantastic. I would have loved to have been a fly on the wall when Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala were writing this script. So the kid is stressed. His “mother” is screaming. What does he do? Huh, maybe he tells her sternly not to scream any more? Well, no. First, he’s mentally deranged. And secondly, he’s like 2 years old. What is a kid his age going to do?? AH. I see the problem. Maybe uses a plunger on her face? NOW WE ARE COOKING WITH GAS! That, or superglue…one or the other. Regardless, a few minutes later, the twins realize she can’t eat, and so they cut her lips open so she can eat. Because of course they do.
They begin torturing her, trying to get her to admit that she isn’t their mother. They are curious, if she is their mom, where did her mole go. “They had to remove it, it was unsafe.” Yeah, they aren’t buying that story. This is definitely not their mother. So the torturing continues. But when she urinates in the bed, the boys meet their match. They release her from her shackles, and allow her to go to the bathroom. In so doing though, she’s able to attack the kids, and get away. She sprints out the back door, and hits the kids tripwire, and cracks her head on the deck. And when she wakes, she finds herself glued to the living room floor. (Yeah, these guys are not messing around. Geeze.) They want her to tell the truth about their mother. But either this woman is a fantastic actor, or she is convinced that she is their legitimate mother. Huh, weird. heheh.
And that is when we learn that our suspicions were right all along. She tells Elias that Lukas died in an accident a year ago, before she returned home. So that means that the Lukas that inhabited the entirety of this movie was a hallucination of Elias’. A manifestation of the stress of losing his flesh and blood, his best friend. Elias’ mother tries to explain that it wasn’t his fault that his brother died. She wants Elias to release her so that the two of them can begin to heal from the tragedy of his brother’s death.
Elias is too far gone for these sorts of appeals to logic. He then tells her that if she really is her mother, she’d be able to tell him what his brother Lukas is doing right now. But seeing as though Lukas is dead, and is only a manifestation of Elias’ imagination, she has no idea what Lukas is doing right now. Since she can’t see Lukas, she isn’t his mother. So he lights the curtain to the house. And as a result, Elias’ mother dies in the fire before the firefighters can put the fire out. As the movie ends, Elias and Lukas are walking together through the cornfield where the movie started. And as the two boys leave the cornfield, they join their mother, and the three of them hug and head off together.
Thoughts on the Movie Goodnight Mommy
This story is riddled with details, and hints, that should have given you pause throughout the story. For example, where was the mother, and where did she return from? Where is the father? And why is he physically ripped from all the family photo albums? Also, why does the mother have enormous photos of herself throughout the house? And what about this cosmetic surgery? Why did she go and get cosmetic surgery right after Lukas died?
Elias is trapped with a mother who cares more about her looks, and her reputation in the world, than she does specifically about him. While recovering from this elective surgery, she forces Elias to play quietly, to not interrupt her sleep, to just feed himself out of the pizza freezer trough. Right? There are significant familial issues happening here. Yes, we look at Elias and think, woah, he is broken! But this mother is not doing so hot herself either.
I personally see this is almost a metaphor talking about the state of the family issues in the world today. Parents that care more about social media likes, tweets, and tik tok videos, than they do about the children right in front of them. Worse! Our fixation with celebrity culture, and cult of beauty necessary to be a part of said culture? The requirement to be beautiful specifically…especially for women, and aging women? And the way we allow (allow? force!) women to chase after this elusive dream is just unconscionable. Heck, men too…why be misogynistic about this particular discussion? But it’s this elusive rainbow that sows seeds of doubt in the fragile mind of Elias. And because of this doubt, he breaks at a moment when he needs his mother (and father???!? that’s one thing I didn’t really understand, did the father die in the tragedy that killed Lukas as well? Were Lukas and Elias living with their father, and the mother was off chasing fame, when the two of them died? I really don’t know. Did you guys catch something I missed?) the most.
The thing that really unmoored me, was the moment when the twins stood over their mother’s bed and sang her to sleep…while she was tied to the bed. Her face was bloodied, and thrashed from their tortures. And what do they sing? Apparently a family bedtime lullaby of sorts? They sing to her… “You mark the stars in the sky, with eyes that never slumber… You he sees, you he loves…” The song is talking about who? God. Who is the only one that knows each and every star in the vast unknowable sky? Yeah, God. He’s the one that has eyes that never sleep, and he’s the one that knows each and every hair on your head. And He sees you. He loves you. But the use of the song in this moment is fairly cutting because we should all be asking, “Where is God right now, in this moment?” This song is literally asking us, in the face of outrageous tragedy, where is God? And not just the torture that Elias is putting his mother through (and her eventual death) but also the children that are forced to feed themselves out of the pizza freezer each night. The latchkey kids that come home to an empty house.
Or. The abuse that comes hand and hand with a world consumed by consumerism and celebrity culture. And how tragedy is only exacerbated by this sort of social networking chaos. Which maybe is the most poignant thing I’ll say today, while simultaneously being the most irrelevant, and the single most DUH thing I’ll say today. Social media is uniquely positioned to provide the least valuable response imaginable to tragedy.
Me: My dog committed suicide today.
Them: HEART BREAK EMOJI!!! THOUGHTS AND PRAYERS!!!!
Oh, come on. Maybe it’s different now on Facebook. It’s literally been almost ten years since I last interacted there seriously.
Me: Dealing with the tragedy of losing my twin brother. And I might just be seeing him in my mind? Oh, and my mother isn’t my mother?
Them: SENDING LOVE!!!!
But it is really tragic to watch as families struggle to deal with mental health issues, especially now in the midst of a global pandemic that requires hardcore social distancing (which we can’t seem to get right, but I digress).
Anyway, this was an intense movie. Definitely not for everyone.
So Wait What Happened At the End??!?
I’ve been asked to be a little more clear about what happens at the end of the movie. Gah. OK. So let’s go over this one more time. Elias, by himself, abused and killed his mother by lighting the house on fire. OK? Elias killed his mother. He then walked out into the corn, and imagined being with Lukas as he did throughout the entire movie. And just like he did with Lukas, he also imagined his mother was there too when they walked out of the corn. And if you look closely on a highrez screen, you can see that his mother has the mole that had been surgically removed. So he is imagining that he found his mother again. And then the “three” of them walk off together. Which basically means the local authorities have a missing child on their hands. A missing murderer actually, now that I think about it. And on that happy note! Thanks for reading. Love to hear your thoughts on the film in the comments below.
Edited by: CY