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Review: Goodnight Mommy (2022)

Goodnight Mommy (2022)

Directed by: Matt Sobel

Premise: A remake of the 2014 Austrian film. Twin boys (Nicholas and Cameron Crovetti) visit their mother (Naomi Watts) at her rural home. She has undergone plastic surgery and her face is disguised by bandages. The boys suspect that the person underneath the gauze is not their mother.

What Works: The filmmakers of 2022’s Goodnight Mommy make a few slight improvements to the original story. In the 2014 film the boys run away to a church where they encounter a priest and later on a pair of Red Cross representatives happen by the house soliciting donations. For the remake, the priest and the volunteers have been changed and consolidated into a pair of police officers. This makes more sense, especially their second appearance. The mother has also been slightly reimagined. Played by Naomi Watts, the mother is warmer in this version and her early exasperation with the boys is a little more credible.

What Doesn’t: Remakes are justified if they update the material or possess a different approach. A few minor changes and improvements notwithstanding, 2022’s Goodnight Mommy is fundamentally the same movie as its predecessor. The makers of this new version have brought little to the material that is new or interesting. The one way in which they have meaningfully changed this story is to Americanize it. That translation involves minor changes to the story but it also means softening the material. 2014’s Goodnight Mommy was distinguished by its visceral and ruthless qualities. Without getting terribly gory it was a disturbing and brutal film. Many of the same events happen in both pictures but the remake of Goodnight Mommy never feels as dangerous or as edgy. The filmmakers pull their punches. This robs the material of its power. In addition to dampening the brutality, 2022’s Goodnight Mommy isn’t staged with the same level or artistry or craft. There were some elegant images in the 2014 version which achieved a horrific contrast with the violence. Nothing in the remake comes close to that craftsmanship or the horror that resulted from it. The 2022 version of Goodnight Mommy is also much more literal. The original film didn’t spell everything out for us but attentive viewers ought to have picked up on the implications of the story. The filmmakers of the remake leave nothing for interpretation. The new version also suffers from the casting of child actors Nicholas and Cameron Crovetti as the twin brothers. The Crovettis performances are stiff and they don’t convey menace.

Disc extras: On Amazon Prime Video.

Bottom Line: The remake of Goodnight Mommy repeats all the relevant elements of its predecessor but without the style or the audacity of the 2014 film. It is a remake that only exists to capitalize on a familiar title and American audience’s unwillingness to read subtitles.

Episode: #920 (October 2, 2022)