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Goodnight Mommy Blu-ray Review

Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, ich seh) (2015) movie poster Goodnight Mommy (Ich seh, ich seh)

US Theatrical Release: September 11, 2015 (Austrian Release: January 8, 2015) / Running Time: 100 Minutes / Rating: R

Writers/Directors: Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala

Cast: Lukas Schwarz (Lukas Mettler), Elias Schwarz (Elias Mettler), Susanne Wuest (Mother/Marie-Christine Mettler), Hans Escher (Priest), Elfriede Schatz (Red Cross Collector), Karl Purker (Red Cross Collector), Georg Deliovsky (Pizza Delivery Guy), Christian Steindl (Sacristan), Christian Schatz (Farmer), Erwin Schmalzbauer (Accordion God), Leo (Cat)

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The few hundred films that have vied for the Academy Award for Best Foreign Language Film have hailed from all over the globe. But, as with Best Picture itself, those that have won the honor have traditionally been classifiable as straight-up drama.
Austria, which has won the Foreign Language Oscar twice in the past ten years with the Nazi drama The Counterfeiters in 2007 and Michael Haneke's Best Picture-nominated Amour in 2012, is hoping the Academy's Foreign Language committee is more open-minded than they have been in the past. The nation's official 2015 submission, Goodnight Mommy, is kind of a horror film and a plenty disturbing one at that.

By the end of next week, we should know if it makes the Oscars' shortlist of nine finalists or if its Oscar hopes were in vain. Meanwhile, Oscars or not, the film isn't coming away completely empty-handed. After being recognized at a variety of film festivals around the world, the movie recently picked up Best Foreign Language Film nominations from two critics organizations, including my own Online Film Critics Society. Serendipitously, the film came to DVD and Blu-ray just in time for me to consider it on my final ballot due tonight.

In the Austrian horror film "Goodnight Mommy", twin brothers Lukas and Elias (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) are convinced that someone has replaced their mother.

Goodnight Mommy opens with two young boys having fun in high cornfields and leaping about unstable ground. The twins, Lukas and Elias (Lukas and Elias Schwarz), are young (or Austrian) enough to take baths together after getting dirty outside. In our time spent with them, the siblings grow increasingly concerned that somehow their mother has been replaced by someone else. Mother (Susanne Wuest), a TV hostess whose face is bruised and bandaged following apparent cosmetic surgery, is not acting like herself. Her temper is short, she demands silence around the family's luxurious country house, she is only giving one of the boys food and drink, and she has been stripping down to take nude walks in the woods at night.

After rescuing a cat from a cave unsettlingly full of skulls and bones, the boys bring it in and hide it from Mother, only to find it dead down in the laundry room the next day. This is something of a powder keg incident and though the boys go to church trying to get helped, they ultimately realize they are the ones who will have to expose that an imposter has replaced their mother. They take diabolical action, in the process shifting our sympathies from them to Mother. Bondage and torture, anyone?

Goodnight Mommy is a weird film, but an interesting and unusual one. As you can imagine, that nature has won it acclaim from critics, who have no doubt grown tired of the conventional and paranormal thrills American horror movies have been offering, but divided viewers, who have given it an average and inevitably falling 6.7 average user rating on IMDb and merely a three-star consensus rating on Amazon (which sounds okay, but is quite low there). There are parts of the movie I still don't understand, like why there is an empty fish tank full of large cockroaches in the family's home or why the boys would ever think to put one of those on their mother while she sleeps.

In what would likely be the film's most iconic shot, a large live cockroach is placed on the boys' sleeping, bandaged Mother (Susanne Wuest). Gross!

The narrative feature writing and directing debut of Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala (each of whom has racked up credits in shorts and documentaries), Goodnight succeeds at unsettling.
The film relies on a major twist, which you kind of see coming, but it makes sense and doesn't spoil anything. Think early Shyamalan, not The Village or anything after it.

For being distributed by Radius-TWC, The Weinstein Company's niche fringe label, and for being a foreign horror movie, Goodnight Mommy performed pretty well in theaters, grossing just over $1 million on a maximum theater count of just 90. Hardly blockbuster numbers, but it was more than Radius has been able to wring out of films like Daniel Radcliffe's Horns and Amanda Seyfried's Lovelace, potentially commercial English language vehicles given (barely) three-digit theater counts. Even with lots of critical love and hard pushes, Radius' biggest hits Snowpiercer and It Follows have registered as little more than footnotes at the box office, which for now at least is not yet

Released on demand in tandem with its theatrical engagement, Goodnight Mommy recently hit Blu-ray and DVD from Weinstein home video partner Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Goodnight Mommy Blu-ray Disc cover art - click to buy from Amazon.com Blu-ray Disc Details

2.39:1 Widescreen
5.1 DTS-HD MA (German)
Subtitles: English, English for Hearing Impaired, Spanish
Not Closed Captioned; Extra Subtitled in English
Release Date: December 1, 2015
Suggested Retail Price: $26.99
Single-sided, single-layered disc (BD-25)
Blue Keepcase
Also available on DVD ($22.98 SRP) and Amazon Instant Video

VIDEO and AUDIO

European films seem to have caught up to their American counterparts on a technical level at least. The Blu-ray's 2.39:1 picture is sharp, detailed, and vibrant throughout, allowing Martin Gschlacht's (glad I don't have to pronounce that) artful compositions to shine. Potent and immersive, the one and only soundtrack presents the German dialogue in 5.1 DTS-HD master audio. English, English SDH, and Spanish subtitles are supplied.

Writers-directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz discuss their real life and cinematic influences in a short conversation. The twins play on a trampoline on the Blu-ray's menu.

BONUS FEATURES, MENUS, PACKAGING and DESIGN

The Blu-ray's only real bonus feature is "A Conversation with Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala" (12:48, HD),
in which the writers-directors discuss the film's real life and conscious filmmaking inspirations, the nature of twins, the use of fear in cinema, and the casting process. They speak in their native German but are subtitled in English.

The disc opens with trailers for fellow foreign horror film When Animals Dream and the acclaimed, homegrown It Follows. Neither is accessible by menu, nor is Goodnight's trailer anywhere to be found.

The basic menu plays a scored montage in between red bars, the larger of which holds listings. The disc kindly resumes unfinished playback of the film, as Weinstein BDs used not to.

No inserts accompany the full-color disc inside the unslipcovered keepcase, which means no digital copy is included with your purchase.

Pleasant dreams! Thank you, Austria!

CLOSING THOUGHTS

Not everyone will be able to stomach the deliberately creepy and off-putting Goodnight Mommy, but those with a taste for thrills who are tired of seeing the same thing again and again should be able to appreciate this clearly different Austrian production. Though light and basic, the Blu-ray treats the film to a terrific feature presentation.

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Related Reviews:
Austrian Cinema: Amour The Counterfeiters | New to Blu-ray: Before We Go
2015 Online Film Critics Society Award Nominees on Blu-ray: Mad Max: Fury Road Ex Machina
European Films: Borgman The Strange Little Cat The Vanishing (1988) Insomnia
Radius-TWC Thrillers: It Follows Horns Aftershock Blue Ruin Only God Forgives
Horror: Let Me In Teaching Mrs. Tingle

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Reviewed December 12, 2015.



Text copyright 2015 DVDizzy.com. Images copyright 2015 RADiUS-TWC, Films Distribution , and Anchor Bay Entertainment.

Unauthorized reproduction prohibited.