Goodnight Mommy is a disappointing affair; it somehow manages to be both not as good as the original and way too similar, begging us to question why it has been made.
Written by Becca Johnson / September 16, 2022
Starring Naomi Watts as the titular character, Goodnight Mommy is a remake of the 2014 Austrian horror thriller of the same name. When twin brothers arrive home to their Mother, her covered face and altered behaviour leads them to believe she might not be who she says she is.
Naomi Watts (The Ring) gives a great performance – of course she impresses as usual. Though her performance may not be phenomenal enough to warrant watching the movie, those who watch it purely to see her shine will not be disappointed. She shows emotion when she needs to and is stoic and scary at the right times, making us feel for her and fear her. Though those who have seen the original know the twist, she does well to misdirect. The young actors, Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti, also do well as Elias and Lucas, twin brothers who share a close bond that is challenged as their Mother's behaviour changes.
The 2014 version is widely known for its disturbing and creepy nature, which this version unfortunately lacks. It strips away much of it's horror, leaving us with a finished product that resembles more of a thriller/mystery. Goodnight Mommy (2014) includes body horror, insects, torture and sadistic scenes that are hard to comprehend – Goodnight Mommy (2022) removes most of this. Though it still has a climax that can send a shiver down your spine if you don't see it coming, it really doesn't do enough to shock or scare, feeling very lukewarm.
The bright, light flooded setting of the original is luckily carried through here, and it's definitely visually pleasing. The set design for the luxurious house in which the movie is based is gorgeous, which is lucky as we spent the entire 91 minute runtime here. It's a well shot flick, with clever cinematography and colour grading. It's unique to have such a dark and twisted thriller as bright and eye-catching as Goodnight Mommy, and it works well at creating a good looking movie and only adds to the misdirection.
Knowing how things are going to play out before you even hit play makes it hard to critique the plot. However, due to the lack of horror imagery and the meandering pace, it's easy to say that Goodnight Mommy suffers in places. It takes a very long while to get going, with nothing excessively dark, scary or interesting happening until well into the third act. For the majority of the run-time, we are watching the two young boys discuss the theories behind why Mommy isn't who she says she is, and this can get tiresome. However, if you haven't seen the original, the mystery element may manage to pull you in. Do the boys have the wrong end, or is something more sinister afoot?
Goodnight Mommy is worth watching on a rainy day. It has decent performances to keep you invested, and a central mystery and plot twist that'll definitely cause intrigue. However, all elements of this movie are done much better and more successfully in the 2014 original. Though the new one may be more accessible to an English audience, the original is scarier, darker and feels more cohesive. And for those who have already seen it, it's up to you to weigh up whether this one is worth checking out.