Goodnight Mommy (2014)
To understand why so many people like ‘horror & gore’ flicks it helps to know what drives the genre. Horror-based storytelling satisfies a primal need to confront the feared unknowns of madness, pain and death. Over the millennia, humans have evolved a cultural and psychological need to know what might happen next, and this anxiety is released vicariously in stories that encounter monsters, ghosts, vampires and insanity. The malevolence that lurks in shadows is released with particular intensity on vulnerable women, and even in the killing process there tends to be gender differences as men are despatched more quickly while women’s deaths are prolonged in helpless panic and terrible agony. The bulk of the audience for horror and gore is male because it is assumed that the male gaze finds pleasure in female suffering.
Now to the film. It’s a simple plotline where two 10 year-old boys are convinced that the person who returned from cosmetic surgery is not their mother. From their viewpoint its entirely believable, especially when the mother herself acts strangely in her post-surgery recovery routine. The essence of a good horror story is believability, and at each stage, we are taken incrementally to the next level of madness as the boys eventually strap her in bed and administer retribution for not being their mother, including super-gluing then cutting free her lips so she can be kept alive and using ugly black beetles for purposes other than what nature intended. The bloody and fiery end, like all good gores, will make the viewer glad that its not their family. There is even a plausible psychological explanation for why this family ends up in such a bloody mess and makes our own family look boringly normal.
This is what the horror genre is all about: bringing us close to terror, then letting us down from the ceiling, calming us with logic to make our own lives feel better. This film does it relentlessly, although somewhat predictably, and the atmosphere is kept tight throughout. For gore fans, It’s a treat.
Directors: Severin Fiala, Veronika Franz
Stars: Lukas Schwarz, Susanne Wuest, Elias Schwarz