Goodnight Mommy: DMFS Best of 2015
Des Moines Film Society asked some of our favorite local writers and film fanatics to pick their favorite film of 2015. You can read them all at DMFS: Best of 2015.
Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala’s Goodnight Mommy is a film that came out of, seemingly, nowhere. I went into it cold. Hadn’t heard a thing about it, hadn’t seen a trailer. I knew it existed and, for some reason, that I had to see it. And I think it’s the best film of last year. It’s a nasty, threatening little film. Like if Michael Haneke watched a lot of Saw when he was a kid. It’s genuinely troubling, and shocking. Even to the most desensitised palate. There are moments in this film when you feel like you are seeing something you should not be seeing. Like you should look away, or turn it off. But you can’t because it doesn’t let you.
The film plays around with contrast. The contrast of pastoral, almost primal exteriors and claustrophobic, ultramodern interiors. Makes the film impossible to pin down to a specific point in time. The contrast of oppressive silence and blood curdling screaming. You don’t feel safe, or OK watching this. And the contrast of innocence and malice. You see the most terrifying creature become a tortured, humiliated victim. You see the inverse of that as well.
Goodnight Mommy is a film of Freudian symbolism; the sort of thing you think is archaic until you see it played out and it’s terrifying. The sense of Uncanny a child would feel not being able to recognize his mother. The in your face Oedipal nature of the film. The film’s obsession with orifices, particularly mouths. It all feels so perverse and fosters such an unsettling tone that carries the film through its most divisive moment and makes it work.
This film is a seething nightmare. It’s one of the finest horror films I’ve seen in years and it burned its images and sounds deeper into me than any other film of last year. Go see Goodnight Mommy and then try to sleep.
Christian Powell is the General Manager of the Fleur Cinema and Café.