Identical twins Elias and Lukas are excited to finally spend some time with their mother. It’s been a while since these boys were last with her (partially due to the strained relationship between the twins’ parents).
But when they arrive, they find their mother looks … a bit different than they remember: She’s got a bandage covering her entire face (save for her eyes and mouth).
“Mommy just a had a little … procedure—a surgery,” she says.
They’re not allowed to see her face with the bandages off, and there’s a few more things that start to set off alarm bells within Elias and Lukas’ minds. Like, their mom refuses to sing them to sleep with their favorite song now. And she tears up the drawing they had made for her.
And…wait a minute…didn’t mom have green eyes, not blue?
Elias and Lukas make plans to find out what happened to their mother in order to save her. They also try to protect one another as best as they can along the way.
At one point, a police officer senses Elias’ fear. She has a daughter, the officer tells Elias, and she hopes that her own daughter would be able to ask for help if she needed it—a sympathetic attempt to invite Elias to ask for protection.
One extensive scene shows Mommy stripping to her underwear in front of a mirror while sensually dancing to music. At one point, she grabs her breasts. Mommy is also seen bathing, though nothing is shown. A woman’s nude rear is briefly visible as Mommy watches Naked & Afraid.
Mommy drops Elias to the ground, scraping his arm. She also slaps him across the face, splitting his lip. Mommy forcefully drags Elias across a room and sprays him with cold water until he says what she wants him to say. She breaks Elias and Lukas’ phone in the garbage disposal, and she forces open their door with a crowbar.
Elias discovers a bloodstain in the barn. Elias hits Mommy in the head with a bathroom object. Elias has a nightmare about Mommy tearing off her skin to reveal a black husk monster. The scene is quite grotesque, as we watch Mommy tear her skin off via a hangnail and continue the action all the way up her body. Elias later has a nightmare about the monster attacking them. Elias and Lukas get physical during a fight. Lukas makes a reference to a raccoon that had been run over.
A woman is seen bent over a dead body while wearing a blood-covered white dress. At one point, we hear the sound of a gunshot.
[Spoiler Warning] It is revealed that Elias is suffering from dissociative identity disorder and Capgras delusion, only imagining that Lukas is still alive. The reality, however, is that Elias had accidentally shot and killed his brother while playing with a loaded firearm. The delusion convinces Elias to duct tape his mother to the bed, put a sock in her mouth and pour freezing water on her until she tells them what happened to their “real” mother. Later, Elias pushes Mommy off a barn loft, knocking her unconscious and breaking her lantern. This action sets fire to the barn, killing Mommy.
The f-word is used four times, and the s-word is used once. “A–” is also used once. God’s name is misused five times, and Jesus’ name is inappropriately used three times.
Mommy drinks a couple glasses of wine throughout the film, and at one point, she uses wine to help swallow prescription medication. Mommy smokes.
The movie contains one jump scare of a frightening creature. Elias vomits. Elias implies that he wet the bed. Mommy reads a section of Frankenstein that describes the grotesque monster.
Goodnight Mommy is an American remake of a 2014 Austrian movie of the same name. In both films, Elias and Lukas arrive at their mother’s home in the country to find her face almost entirely covered in bandages. It’s not long before the two of them start to wonder whether the woman they’re living with is actually their mother.
And though a few elements of the movie have been changed from its foreign predecessor, Goodnight Mommy still contains a lot of what you’d expect from a horror film: a general unnerving feeling, a splash of violence and a single jump scare. There’s also a sensual scene that continues on for some time.
But if we’re being honest, horror isn’t the best description of this title—because, in all honesty, it’s not very scary. It’s more akin to a mystery thriller, feeling closer to an extremely tense game of Ultimate Werewolf than a “made to keep you up at night” spook.
There’s really not much else to say about Goodnight Mommy. Sure, it may be less graphic than your standard horror film, but that’s not really something that’s particularly difficult to do—nor is it an endorsement. Actually, what content does remain may leave many people more inclined to goodbye to this film.
Though he was born in Kansas, Kennedy Unthank studied journalism at the University of Missouri. He knew he wanted to write for a living when he won a contest for “best fantasy story” while in the 4th grade. What he didn’t know at the time, however, was that he was the only person to submit a story. Regardless, the seed was planted. Kennedy collects and plays board games in his free time, and he loves to talk about biblical apologetics and hermeneutics. His favorite movie is La La Land.