This year's Sydney Film Fest got off to a fine start for me last night with Severin Fiala & Veronika Franz's chilling and outrageous Goodnight Mommy.
It's interesting to see this one so soon after Jennifer Kent's The Babadook, as the two movies share a similar premise: the emotional struggle between a single mother and her young son (or in this case twin sons) spiralling out of control with horrific consequences. Beyond that however, the two films have little in common, so it's cool to see the same idea approached from two very different viewpoints.
I hadn't read too much about this one and wasn't sure whether to expect a psychological thriller or an all out gorefest, so was pleasantly rewarded with an even balance of both. The first half is a deliberately paced slow burn, but is peppered with enough satisfyingly jolting shocks to guarantee that you stay wide awake. The dread gradually escalates to a final act that descends into over the top horror, which had even jaded old me cringing a few times. Fiala and Franz definitely weren't afraid to take their movie to some very uncomfortable and taboo places. It's not every day that you see a movie in which a 10-year-old boy is such a loathsome antagonist that you're rooting for him to die.
Goodnight Mommy is classic European artsploitation, a movie intended to satisfy the arthouse crowd just as much as thrill seekers and gorehounds. Its spooky wooded locations and chilly, clinical interiors are beautifully framed and patiently lingered on, making it worthy of seeing for the visuals alone. One (probably) opportunistically shot scene in a hailstorm is a real eye opener.
Back to the fest tonight to see Kiwi metal gorefest DEATHGASM!