Oh shit, this movie is nothing like what I’d imagined.
Ich seh Ich seh (known more commonly by the title of it’s UK release - Goodnight Mommy) is as about as unsettling as its English title would lead you to believe it would be. Directed and written by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, it was at first released in a 2014 film festival in Venice, then experienced its domestic and international release in 2015. I’m not familiar with any of the other work done by the duo (or of any member of the team’s), so here’s hoping that they don’t just sit around and make horrendous films like this one all day. The film centers around the life of twin boys Lukas and Elias, who are dealing with the immediate repercussions of their mother’s cosmetic surgery. Arriving home with a face wrapped in bandages and a stricter personality, the boys begin to question whether or not the woman who came back from the hospital is indeed their mother…
Before I begin, I’d like to specifically address @artisnteasy‘s concerns regarding cockroaches: those aren’t Austrian cockroaches. Roaches are far less of an issue in Austria (their primary insect-pest are Silverfish) and the ones that do exist are small and die off in the alpine winter. So, have no fear: creepy blonde boys won’t feed them to you while you sleep. Or, if they do, it’s probably a sign that they have some source of disposable income, as cockroaches that big would have to be imported.
Safe: Jesus Christ, no. If this is a film that interests you, please make sure you only bring friends with the firmest of resolves and an overall inability to be triggered. This film is a shitshow of upsetting content: gaslighting, child abuse, animal death, gore, body horror, death by fire, and torture are just some of the elements of the film that could be upsetting to any (and probably most) potential viewers. I won’t go into much detail in regards to how these are incorporated into the film, but jesus christ…exercise extreme caution when choosing whether or not to attend a viewing.
Scary: Scary? No. Upsetting? Yes. Suspenseful? Yes. Cringe-inducing? Disgusting? Bloody? All yes. While I don’t consider Goodnight Mommy to possess any authentic scares, I do think it really hits the mark in regards to other elements of good horror. And remember, just because there aren’t any scares per se, doesn’t mean that you won’t find the film frightening.
Self: This is the whitest film I’ve seen in a long time. We have a consistent cast of three (the twin boys and their mother), as well as guest appearances by a few more (two Red Cross workers, a deacon, a priest, some field workers), all of whom are white. While there is a little bit of body diversity in regards to the minor roles, none of them really fall outside the realm of what is considered “the norm” in major films. Only the middle-aged Red Cross workers are neither thin nor fit. The mother repeatedly alludes to her encroaching age, and yet was cast as a thin and attractive woman. There are zero characters of color, zero confirmed LGBT, and zero of different abilities. The closest thing to diversity in Goodnight Mommy is the fact that there are two old people and a particularly ugly church deacon (and I have legitimately had people argue to me that this was diverse).
Show Your Friends: Fuck no. The twist is uninteresting and overdone, as well as frighteningly easy to figure out. None of the actors are all that talented. The undeveloped side-plots are more interesting than the actual story being told and the most sympathetic character is the injured cat the boys adopt halfway through. Unless you and your viewing partners are particularly set on viewing an astonishingly upsetting film with very little pay off (and are blessed with a hard heart and an iron stomach), then I don’t think I would want to sit through it.
I would give Goodnight Mommy (2014) two horrifying Austrian twin boys out of five.