Goodnight Mommy (2014)

Goodnight Mommy


It is a conspicuously uneasy vibe established practically right from the start of the ultra-unsettling Austrian psychological thriller “Goodnight Mommy”.  And then from there all the way up to the haunting conclusion, Co-Directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz never take their feet off the pedal, unleashing an unrelenting and unsettling undercurrent of fear and dread.

Following what we come to learn was a horrific auto accident, a single mother also only recently separated from her husband, returns to her country home and to her twin pre-adolescent sons.  Severely damaged in the crash, her face is concealed in a grotesque guise of gauze and tape.  She has been helplessly rendered to revealing to her children only a mummy-like mommy looking back at them with empty eyes, one who ceaselessly scolds them through pursed lips, often times as she is at once bodily abusing them.  Mom’s off-puttingly odd behavior leads one of the twins, Lukas, to suspect that this is not their mother at all.  The other, Elias, is not so sure.  At least initially, that is.

We watch, gripped with fascination, as these kids struggle mightily to uncover who, or what, this curious creature is wandering about ominously in and around their house.  Where in the world is she from?  Or more alarmingly to consider, is she even of this world?  Is she actually an amnesiac, or is it all an act?  And what of these urgent and seemingly random episodes of OCD spray bottle disinfecting of walls both inside and out?

There are an abundance of plausible themes running throughout “Goodnight Mommy” from which to consider and to choose.  Can a brutally battered and broken family be fixed?  Can a distraught mother completely overwhelmed with pain both physical and spiritual ever fully return from the hell of a nervous breakdown?  Or perhaps the ruthless reality that a post-traumatic existence is never endured alone, but is a shared suffering among all those infected in it’s aftermath.

Not only are their roles exceedingly challenging emotionally, in addition these are physically punishing performances registered by all three principles in the film.  The slapping, punching and eye-gouging inflicted by real-life twin brothers Lukas and Elias Schwarz along with actress Susanne Wuest upon each other never appear to be simulated.  And while Wuest is certainly a stunningly beautiful woman to behold, the character she so strikingly inhabits is about as far from glamorous as can possibly be imagined.

The tables turn in terrifyingly twisted fashion mid-movie, as the persecuted become the exploiters.  The hunter becomes the prey.  What results is a starkly sordid demanding that love lost be replenished.  And all at the will of unconscionable sadism.  It is a genuinely disturbing disintegration to witness.

In the closing sequence of “Goodnight Mommy” we realize that we have returned back to the beginning of the story-the perfect picture of a mother and her children.  Only we are abundantly aware that this is a final image which, while by nature eternal, has been reached at the end of a viciously cruel and merciless road paved with unspeakable grief and atrocity.

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talhotblond (2012)

Talhotblond (2012)

“talhotblond” is a passable made for television docudrama account of a tragic and bizarre 2005 case of fabricated internet identities and murderous jealousy.

Courteney Cox does an adequate job of directing the mostly uninspired(ing) cast (the former “Friends” star also co-produced and appears in her film, which Cox reportedly shot over just 16 days), with Garret Dillahunt (Fox TV’s “Raising Hope”) emerging as the most commendable of the bunch.  Dillahunt is suitably creepy as a mild-mannered middle-aged Midwest husband and father who comes completely unhinged with obsession over an online persona he knows only as “talhotblond”, whom he believes to be a teenage girl.

Really, can anything good possibly come of this?

Yeah, it could have been better.  But if you’ve seen any measure of flicks fully fashioned for the tube, then you have almost undoubtedly seen way worse.

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Kristy (2013)


The played to death “young woman alone being stalked by crazed killers” gets a little different, and a lot weird, twist on things in “Kristy”.  For reasons never fully funneled into focus, the whack-jobs bent on butchering our beauty, in addition to despising those they pronounce privileged, seem to be anti-Christian satanic cultsters, as well.  However, this is mostly conjecture, as the script never conclusively confirms such, and there is no basis to believe that the object of their psychotic scorn (Haley Bennett) is particularly God-fearing, either.

Nevertheless, by film’s finale, this gargantuanly gallant gal, having agonized through a brutal baptism by fire, has, in a very visceral sense, been born again to launch into a fiercely forged crusade.  And, man, will there ever be hell to pay.

Picture something along the lines of “do unto others”…only eliminate the benevolence.

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Willow Creek (2013)


We already know damn well right where we’re headed in the found footage flick “Willow Creek” just as soon as the premise is presented.

Joe Swanberg and Kristina Klebe are a considerable comfort to behold as a curious couple wandering the wilderness in search of “Bigfoot”. And they sure as shootin’ had oughta be hot, as Bobcat Goldthwaite (yes, that guy), in a daft directorial decision evidently intended to create suspense, at one point in his film trains the camera on the pretty pair for positively one of the most interminable, and uneventful, stretches in cinematic history.

That the entirely predictable payoff is nothing at all noteworthy comes as no shock, as what we have endured leading up to the flaccid finale has fallen feebly short of being even mildly remarkable.

If ever the sensation seizes to scope out this “Sasquatch” saga snore-fest…squash it.

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White Rabbit (2013)


Harlon (Nick Krause in a mesmerizing performance) is a troubled teenage kid who talks to Graphic Comic Book characters and bunnies in “White Rabbit”. As in with them. And it’s not a damn bit laughable.

Viciously bullied at school and relentlessly belittled by a far from Father of The Year (“True Blood”‘s Sam Trammell) at home, Harlon embarks upon a gradual descent into disturbing dissociation and despair. Veteran indy Director Tim McCann effectively establishes an unnervingly ominous tone throughout his odd yet absorbing film. This includes the decidedly interesting choice of accentuating Harlon’s escalating break with reality by way of a constant and eerily foreboding music under bed for about the good final third of the story.

It all builds in portentous crescendo to a startlingly unanticipated ending that is as unorthodox as it is a relief.

That’s how at least one viewer is choosing to interpret it anyhow.

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