It’s always hard to judge a remake of an already great film, so I went into this new version of GOODNIGHT MOMMY with a lot of apprehension – but also some optimism due to Naomi Watts as “Mommy” and Director Matt Sobel, who helmed some of the grittiest episodes of BRAND NEW CHERRY FLAVOR.
The plot centers on two twins: Elias and Lukas (Cameron & Nicholas Crovetti from BIG LITTLE LIES), who arrive at their mother’s country home for a visit and find her wearing a surgical mask that completely obscures her face. After a stiff greeting, mom lays down some strict rules that put the boys on edge.
Mommy then starts doing some very strange things – and one day when the boys push her too far, she physically abuses Elias – which arouses their suspicions that something is not quite right. In fact, the more time they spend with her, the more they’re convinced that the woman in the house is an imposter who is only pretending to be their mother.
Like its Austrian predecessor, Sobel’s GOODNIGHT MOMMY is filled with amazing imagery, and Watts, who is fantastic in literally everything, is perfect in this role. But outside of one tension-filled scene with some incredibly gorey F/X and a more expert hand at hiding a big surprise, this version is missing the palpable unease of the original.
I rewatched Veronika Franz & Severin Fiala’s film right after this one. While it’s pretty close in story beats, I think by muting the more sadistic nature of some scenes the American film just can’t compete.
Listen, I’m happy to watch Watts do her thing for hours – the scene where she dances to Edwyn Collins “A Girl Like You” is fucking brilliant – but that couldn’t save this for me. Worth a watch if you’re curious, but I don’t think you need to go out of your way to see it.
GOODNIGHT MOMMY is now streaming on Amazon Prime Video; the original 2014 film is also streaming on TUBI.