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Lukas and Elias are in the midst of a vigorous game of tag. The homemade animal mask worn by one of the boys sets up the disturbing recurring motif of hidden faces, especially as the mother is revealed, recovering from recent cosmetic surgery. With her face puffy and grotesque under a swath of bandages, the mother requires absolute peace and quiet in order to recuperate, yet the boys stuck in the big house in the middle of nowhere want to play. The mother’s problems to deal with the depression and the relationship between her and the restless boys up for trouble starts to escalate, as she becomes more and more strict. The brothers in response retreat ever further into their own private, aggressively anti-social world.

To the horror of the viewer, their anger and suspicion puts their imaginations running wild – up to a point to boys doubt that the person beneath the bandages is their mother at all and come up with a plan how to make sure of that.

A wicked debut full of malevolent twists "Goodnight Mommy" is the first narrative feature from writer-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, respectively the partner and nephew of producer Ulrich Seidl. This film emerged from the program of Toronto International Film Festival and is easily one of the most interesting films of the festival circuit this year.

PÖFF / Maria Reinup

Austria 2014