At first glance, the film “Goodnight, Mommy” fascinates and surprises with its cruelty and coldness.
Goodnight Mommy is directed by Matthew Sobel and is an American remake of the 2014 Austrian psychological horror film of the same name.
The film was shot by Veronika Franz and Severina Fiala, they created suspense with a huge number of slashers, but with a thin thread that tells about the loss of family values. The thriller tells the story of a mother and her two sons.
In the film, the main characters are two twin brothers, Elias (Cameron Crovetti) and Lucas (Nicholas Crovetti), who reunite with their mother (Naomi Watts) after a long separation.
A mother sings a lullaby to her sons before going to bed with the words “Tomorrow morning, if God wills, you will wake up.” As the young woman finishes her lullaby, her sons kiss her and say goodnight. She is a single mother and she has to live anew.
The plot begins with a woman who returns from the hospital to her refined and rich home, terribly sterile. She underwent plastic surgery and temporarily she must be with a bandaged face, her children only recognize her mother’s eyes and notice her strange behavior: she became rude, angry, demanding, began to establish rules that did not exist before, stopped loving animals. Sons are looking for their mother in one of the farthest corners of the house. And much to their surprise, they notice that the bandages completely cover her face, except for her eyes and mouth. The mother tells the twins about the operation she had. Then Elias asks his mother: is she sick, how does she feel and is everything okay with her, she in response convinces him that everything is fine with her and she is fine.
She explains to them that it’s just cosmetic surgery. Elias continues to interrogate the mother and asks why their father didn’t tell them anything about their mother’s operation. The woman makes it clear that she wanted to hide it in secret and that her father, including nothing about the operation, knew. As they moved in, mom immediately lists a new set of rules that the children did not like. In the memory of the sons, their mother was completely different. The woman literally orders her son not to argue and to be quiet, at least as long as she is in treatment. The boys are horrified when they see their mother pour water over their Madagascar cockroaches.
At this moment, the idea came to the boys that this was not their mother, but some kind of impostor. The woman began to forbid literally everything to her sons: to invite friends to visit her, not to open the curtains, justifying this by the fact that her skin is very susceptible to light. What also seems strange to the twins is that she has begun to close her office, bedroom, and shed. Elias and Lucas are small and eccentric children, so they deliberately do what they are forbidden to do. They open the barn and Elias finds a dried blood stain that he thinks is from their real mother. The woman catches her son when he leaves the shed and, as a punishment, forbids him to leave the house at all.
That same night, Elias has a dream about a barn. Elias wakes up immediately and runs out of the room at the sound of his mother. A woman is talking to someone on the phone, convincing that she is tired of pretending. Elias and Lucas are now even more convinced that she is tired of pretending to be their mother. The boys begin to monitor their mother’s activities with their baby walkie-talkie. Elias finds his drawing of Lucas and his mother in the trash. Now the boys notice that not only the behavior of their mother has changed, but also her appearance. For example, their mother has green eyes, but this woman has blue eyes. They immediately call their father, but he does not answer their calls.
The woman finds out about this situation and breaks the phone. Elias tried to remove the bandages from his mother, hoping he was sleeping in the tub. As soon as he reached out his hand, the woman woke up. Elias throws a tantrum and yells that the woman is not his mother, in response she pours a glass of cold water on him. She asks him to stop such things. After this situation, Lucas tells Elias that the house is dangerous, and the boys escape together in the middle of the dark night, in the midst of a violent storm. The boys have become insincere towards the woman, but she does not seem to notice this. And then the boys arrange a sadistic quest to make sure that this is not their mother.
The meaning of the movie “Goodnight mommy”
The brothers run across the cornfield to their mother, they hug and look happy.
Throughout the film there are visual triggers that help to perceive the plot of everything that happens on the screen. Analysis and comparison help the viewer find the meaning of the picture.
Like the original film, the remake doesn’t reveal anything until the film’s climactic scene. But if we go back after watching the climax, we can spot hints scattered throughout the film. These allusions show what really happened.
The key point is that there is actually only one child, and the other is the boy’s imagination. We understand this from the shot of the boys playing hide and seek, when Elias opens his eyes and sees only footprints on the surface of the lake. This is also confirmed by the actions of the mother and most likely the child died due to an accident. The woman prepares breakfast for only one and prepares a set of clothes for one boy, does not respond to Lucas’ requests until Elias repeats his brother’s request. The woman does not see the second boy, who is simply her son’s imagination.
Lucas personifies evil through brutal scenes of violence: the boy appears in an occult-type mask, the first to undertake torture, initiating bullying of his mother until they are sure that she is their mother. In a final test on the woman, Lucas holds a candle and threatens to set her on fire.
The original title of the film is Ich seh ich seh, which means “I see, I see” in German. The essence of the children’s game is that you need to guess the object with your eyes closed. This is what the mother is trying to convey to Elias, that there is no other boy and this is just a hallucination. Elias does not believe that his brother is no more, deep in his soul he feels guilty for the death of Lucas. The woman played along with her son in his mental delirium for a long time, pretending that Lucas exists. When she returned from the hospital, she did not want to do this anymore, which is confirmed by the phrase from a telephone conversation with a psychiatrist: “… I can no longer deceive him.”
“Goodnight mommy” ending explained
In the finale, we see a beautiful house, which is located on the picturesque shore of the lake, surrounded by a cornfield. The house is engulfed in fire, no one survived, and as the fire dies out, we do not see the burnt bodies, except for a woman in a yellow dress, who goes into the forest.
The fire occurred after Elias invites his mother to play the game “I see, I see” with him, while the mother is all mutilated and exhausted. A teenager with unhealthy persistence offers to guess what he is currently doing, at this moment Lucas holds a burning candle near the window curtain. A woman, of course, is not able to defeat an imaginary son. Then there is a fight between Elias and Lucas, the first snatches the candle from the hands of the second and a fire breaks out.
The shocking film “Goodnight, Mommy” is shot with some coldness, conscious contemplation and detachment. This was done in order to show how completely without noticing it, a parent can become a stranger to a child, especially to a teenager. The mother could not and did not want to understand her son, and as a result, she could not help him in time. The result was a terrible tragedy that took place in an arthouse house located on the shores of a picturesque lake.