Now You See It, Now You Don’t: Goodnight Mommy

Austria, whose cinema presence might be summed up as being the setting for The Sound of Music (which, on a side note, will have a sing-a-long screening at the Cornell Cinema later this Fall), happens also to be the source of a few very serious and somewhat twisted filmmakers, such as Fritz Lang, Otto Preminger and more recently Michael Haneke. They all share a penchant for wicked stories usually involving innocent children and abusive parents, but more often than not, the roles are reversed and you rather get abusive children and innocent parents. One recent example is Haneke’s celebrated Funny Games, which was remade shot-for-shot in the United States with Michael Pitt and Brady Corbet as two teenagers who invade the home of Naomi Watts and Tim Roth to play a series of violent sadistic games. So you can see where Austrians Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala are coming from when they go on to write and direct Goodnight Mommy, one most chilling horror films of this year. In it we have a pair of twins, played by Elias and Lukas Schwarz (who both keep their names for their characters), confronting their defaced mother (Susanne West), who underwent facial reconstruction surgery after an accident.