Saturday, April 16, 2016

Goodnight Mommy


   I was on a winning streak having not seen a movie I disliked in quite some time, but dammit Goodnight Mommy, you fucked it up for me. This movie got under my skin, and more often than not- not in the way it was trying to. Having a simple concept and an threadbare plot (by design) does not excuse lazy writing. The makers of Goodnight Mommy were so concerned with building tension, which normally isn't a bad thing, that they forgot to keep their story on par. The movie is vague, confusing, and ultimately capped off with a shitty twist and a stupid ending. Not happy with this movie at all.

   Most movies like this have an adequate story but lack any kind of authentic tension or suspense. Goodnight Mommy handles it's lurid material just fine, and getting to those hair raising scenes of violence (spoilers?) is quite the tension-filled journey. The problem is, I'm following a story here. The movie primes you for a twist, some sort of reveal. This isn't a plain story like Funny Games or the more recent, Hush. There's some weird, next level shit going on. Anyways, being the jaded, well-read, intuitive, and non-stupid movie lover that I am, I guessed the 'big' twist within the first five to ten minutes of the movie.

   Moreover, to say I 'guessed' it, is kind of an insult to anyone with a double digit IQ. Pay attention to the very frickin movie that you're supposed to be watching, and it's obvious. (serious spoilers ahead) The movie is about these two young twins, Lukas and Elias, who've been more or less on their own while their mom is in the hospital getting cosmetic surgery done. Now she's home, and the twins are beginning to suspect that the woman under the bandages... isn't really mom at all. Firstly, a lot of viewers are saying that the mom was getting 'reconstructive surgery' and was recovering from some accident (more on this idea later) but no, no she wasn't.

  At one point in the movie, the twins sneak into her room, or her office or something- and there's pictures of her with lines drawn on her face as if someone was evaluating her for cosmetic surgery. Also, given that she's a local TV personality, this is probably what was going on anyways. Before I go any further, let me spoil the "twist" to the movie for you. One of the twins is actually dead. But, here's why I thought that was bullshit... it was too damn obvious. The whole movie, the mom won't talk to Lukas, she won't put food out for him, she won't lay his clothes out, and she won't answer him when he asks her something. How is everyone missing this?

   It gets so fucking obvious. At one point, the twins and mom are playing a guessing game of sorts, and mom herself became the object in question- Elias' clue for her was that she was 'someone with two kids'. Mom of course doesn't know anyone with two kids. Because LUKAS IS FUCKING DEAD. She walks around him like he's not there, nobody and nothing else in the movie interacts with Lukas directly. I paid close attention to see if they'd screw up- but nope. Literally, Elias repeats everything that Lukas says. At one point, Elias presents mom with two welcome home presents- one from him and one from Lukas. She only grabs the one from Elias.

   The only alternative to thinking that Lukas is a figment of Elias' imagination is thinking that this woman outright loathes one of her kids to such an extreme that she's ignoring his very existence. Which would be a neat premise for a psychological thriller, and also would've made a decent twist for this movie, but it wasn't the twist. The big reveal was that indeed- Lukas was dead. Something the movie couldn't resist telling me every five minutes anyways. Sure, there was some nonsense misdirection like a tiny cave full of bones the boys found, and mom walking out into the woods at night, and we see her face spin in fast-motion like a demonic entity or something. I dunno.

   Goodnight Mommy excels during it's scenes of violence. It teeters on depravity and gets very uncomfortable. Okay, good. That bit is fine. It's everything else that's pretty underwhelming. I wouldn't be so pissy if people hadn't been hailing this movie as a fantastic flick. Because it's really not. It's sloppy and lazy. I couldn't stand it after a certain point. One reviewer said that all of the twists and misdirection doesn't matter because the movie only aims to disturb and get under your skin. Well, that's a shitty excuse. Yes, it does get under your skin with some shocking and uncomfortable stuff, but without a good story, that's just shlock! I could list a dozen movies that made me uncomfortable, and they all had better stories too!

   When all is said and done, Goodnight Mommy irritated and underwhelmed me far more than it disturbed me. That... is a problem, and that is why this is not a good movie. The movie seems to be getting hailed as fantastic by an audience of idiots who've never seen any other thriller. This explains why they didn't see the twist coming, and why the gruesomeness is oh-so-shocking to them. Get the fuck outta here. How can you think this movie is fantastic and fresh after you've seen Martyrs, Funny Games, Antichrist, The Sixth Sense, The Others, and The Awakening? Most of which are very standard viewing for people who purport to be genre fans. None of you fuckers saw this twist coming? Because without the story, the tension and the gruesomeness amounts to precisely: dick.

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