Goodnight Mommy (2022) Review!!

Synopsis – Twin brothers arrive at their mother’s house and begin to suspect that something isn’t right. Remake of the 2014 Austrian film.

My Take – While I am all in against unfair comparisons between remakes and their original sources, the same can’t be said specifically for the horror genre. Which especially has a too long list of failed re-imaginings to their name to even list down spontaneously, considering how forgettable most of them are.

Of course there are a few exceptions like The Ring (2002) and Let Me In (2010), which despite being Americanized managed to retain the essence and tense atmosphere of their eerie originals. Unfortunately, this latest entry, which released on Amazon Prime Video, isn’t among them.

Released in 2014, the debut narrative Austrian feature from aunt-nephew duo Veronika Fran and Severin Fiala not only surprised horror fans with its origins, but also shocked everyone with its extremity. While audiences are accustomed to creepy kids and mysterious events, but writer-directors Fiala and Franz‘s film pushed those ideas much further than the norm, resulting in a brazen, unflinching horror film.

However, this remake from director Matt Sobel (Brand New Cherry Flavor miniseries) and writer Kyle Warren (Lethal Weapon TV series), acts like just another dumbed down American remake that’s never willing to sensationalize or instigate like its foreign counterpart.

Simply told, the film lacks the impact, the brutality, the shock factor and the intelligence of its original. It plays it too safe and doesn’t feature as much tension as it should to make an impact. To make matters worse, even if you are paying half the attention you’ve already figured out the so-called twist halfway through.

With English-language remakes The Ring and Funny Games (2007) under her belt, Naomi Watts may have seemed like an obvious choice for the lead of yet another American take of an international horror hit. But the remake’s shortcomings aren’t due to her lack of craft or effort, the issues lie solely in the writing and directing. Making this one yet another miss to the growing catalogue of U.S. remakes that are far inferior to their predecessors.

The story follows twins, Elias (Cameron Crovetti) and Lucas (Nicholas Crovetti), who have just been dropped off at a Connecticut farmhouse to spend the summer with their mother (Naomi Watts), by their father (Peter Hermann) who is no longer welcome around his ex-wife. However, the two are left shocked when they see their mother for the first time on this visit. An actress, coming out of surgery to maintain her youthful appearance, she now requires to wear a mask to help the healing process.

But it is not only the outward appearance that worries the boys. Where once their mother was warm and caring, she is now cold and distant, and her behavior is borderline aggressive, which includes throwing away Elias’s hand-drawn pictures and smoking in her room. Forcing the two to suspect if it is actually their mother underneath.

Here, director Sobel makes little to no attempt to establish an atmosphere, tension, or any kind of terrifying ambiguity. For fans of the original, the loss of everything that made the original version frightening is devastating. Instead treating you with cinematic clichés, the sentimental overtones, the cheap musical dress-up and the spoon fed explanatory breakdown of a Hollywood style second class thriller.

It’s not as tense as the original and the air of mystery is muted by one too many clues that point to the twist ending. Not only does the film shows its card on the creep factor of Mother nearly an hour earlier than the original, it establishes the fact that these boys will spend the film talking constantly, voiding any sense of tension or ambiguity throughout the film.

While the twist in the remake did differ slightly from the original, it wasn’t enough for the film to stand more solidly on its own. Even the finale does not deliver that same shock.

Without a doubt, Naomi Watts seems to be giving it all here and is genuinely great. Especially, in the scene when her character is taped to a bed and told to confess her false identity, Watts delivers a range of emotions that reminds us of her capability as a performer. There is also some fun to be had seeing Watts vamp it up, even if we can’t see much of her. Kinkily dancing, drinking and smoking her way around the house, a sizzle reel that proves she should explore her villainous side more often.

Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti are also impressive, but are left stranded and adrift, undercut by a less-than-worthy film. In smaller roles, Peter Hermann, Crystal Lucas-Perry and Jeremy Bobb don’t have much to do. On the whole, ‘Goodnight Mommy’ is a tepid horror remake that doesn’t pack the same punch.

Directed –

Starring – Naomi Watts, Cameron Crovetti, Nicholas Crovetti

Rated – R

Run Time – 92 minutes

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