GOODNIGHT MOMMY (2014) – I didn’t remember Zack and Cody being so dark



Goodnight Mommy is a 2014 horror film of Austrian origin and directed by Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz, who later directed The Lodge (2019) which however did not inspire me as Goodnight Mommy.

I have to say that at first Goodnight Mommy made a great impression on me. I think that among the strengths there is first of all a very intriguing plot and a very very original input: two twins do not recognize their mother after a plastic surgery; I know it may seem silly, but I find it really curious as an incipit.

At first I was hesitant to write about it, not because I was not convinced, on the contrary, the film left me a good memory, for me it is a valid film, worth it. However, I felt there was something that yes, during the first viewing I had “grasped”, but I had not yet completely understood what it was or better, I did not yet know how to translate it into words.

So the first viewing was definitely impactful, engaging, mysterious, while the second was much more investigative, in-depth, doubtful.

I found myself in front of a film that plays on an exceptional construction of events, we are constantly forced to re-evaluate our “considerations” – who is right, who is wrong? How much is true in what we see?

I tried to evaluate every scene, every moment, every pronoun used, every change of clothes, in search of a “hair in the egg”, a crack to show. Well, there are none.

Although at first viewing, I was able to intuit part of where the film was going, doubts and reevaluations did not stop until the end. As I have already mentioned in some reviews, the films that allow me to constantly reevaluate the course of the same and the evolution of things, are the films that I appreciate the most. I want my certainties to be broken and the author to surprise me in the best way possible. I am not happy to be able to predict the evolution of a film.

So Goodnight Mommy was certainly a good investment of time. On one side the very unsettling blindfolded mother, on the other the innocent and rural young Zack and Cody.


As usual, in this film, I would like to give credit to the music chosen to accompany the scenes and also to the visual of some of them: scenes that are banal but full of anxiety and tension thanks to the synergy between a disturbing visual impact and the musical accompaniment that contributes a lot to building feelings of discomfort in the viewer.

I would also like to focus on another thing: practically I appreciated a lot the neatness of the contrast between this idyllic setting, a millimetrically perfect, studied, modern, clean, tidy house and then the chaos and disgust of the beetle tank; almost symbolizing the presence of something rotten in what instead seems like a perfect picture.

I mean, you can be my son too, but if you collect beetles as a hobby, as far as I’m concerned, you can also consider yourself orphaned ok.


Ok, let’s try to get into the heart of the film.

I’ll start by saying that the film itself tries to play a lot on the saying/not saying, seeing/not seeing, so many things have been inferred and/or theorized but not necessarily confirmed.

The least common multiple of all the mess is one: Lukas, Elias’ twin brother, is dead. Elias, unable to process the loss, eliminates the event from his own consciousness and continues to live and interact with his brother as if he were still there.

From this point on, various interpretations branch off, some more obvious, others less so.

How did Lukas die? Lukas’ death is not spelled out for us, but theories are two: the most credited is that of a possible drowning (see the scene where Elias is floating and calling Lukas, and he never resurfaces, but only bubbles appear). Or, there are those who assume that it may have been due to a fire: both for the exaggerated reaction of the mother to the sight of the lighter in the twin’s room, and for the manual and easy way in which Elias handles the fire.

How did the cat die? It may seem like a less important question, but in fact in a situation of great stress and adversity from a mother who is becoming increasingly tyrannical and cold, it seems almost banal and obvious to say “it was definitely her.” Instead, there are those who argue that the cat actually died by drowning in the glass case, therefore only later (and it could be a reference to Lukas’ death), or there are those who suppose that the death may be due to a lack of care (like food) since Elias imagined that Lukas was doing it.

It is interesting to note that the entire vision of the film is filtered through Elias’ eyes, so we live everything he lives, we see what he sees and dream what he dreams (scenes with cockroaches in the mother & such).


Well, the question of “mother” plays a huge role in the meaning of the film. There are only two possibilities, is she or isn’t she?

The first theory that I feel comfortable sharing and that I think is the majority interpretation, is certainly that of a marked child who, suffering from mental problems, no longer recognizes his mother.

However, as I mentioned earlier, the film is very good at spreading the seed of doubt. The mother that is represented, is certainly not docile or apprehensive, but rather, shortly after arriving home, she proves to be very hostile and in contrast with her only child. A child who has had to “face” (so to speak) the loss of his brother and also the distance of his father (it is mentioned a separation).

I sincerely think that the way in which the mother handled the situation was not certainly the best way. There is a total lack of constructive dialogue, the topic “Lukas” is never directly addressed, it is all very misleading, there is no communication between the two protagonists, there is no real activation on the part of the mother to “cure” her own child, but rather, we find ourselves in front of a woman who yes, is destroyed, because I do not dare to imagine how much the loss of a child can weigh, but who decides to barricade herself and shut out the last piece of her family in pieces.

I mean, effectively, at the beginning of the film, the way she behaves, leaves us perplexed as well. Why is she so tough? Why does she ignore her child? She doesn’t say it to us just as she doesn’t say it to Elias.

I think this is the fundamental core: a terrible way of reacting to a situation that is already very destructive; all this has done nothing but contribute to feeding the paranoia, complexes and doubts of Elias. Let’s not forget then that the mother herself, has well decided to encourage this behavior of her son, to avoid making him face reality (and perhaps also to avoid it herself).

The second theory, however, the one that I find a bit forced, is that of considering the mother as an imposter. There are those who make all the things I listed before, a good confirmation of her false identity.

It is supposed that the real mother died in this hypothetical accident and her place is taken by a probable sister/friend (? – I mean, the one in the photo). Which even seems to have undergone a surgical operation to resemble the mother more (and this is really cool) and that the contact lenses were only replaced after the operation, contact lenses that however we do not see. As we do not see any real affirmations of her identity, in short she could have made a mega list of all the things she knew about her children, instead she simply limits herself to giving orders (even in quite critical situations), clashes with Elias and makes a mistake with Lukas’s favorite song.

All the staging of the fake mother, would have been meant to try to keep Elias’s sanity intact, who otherwise would have had to face the loss of his own family (but the situation still gets worse.)

It’s a theory that I find much more shaky and forced than the first, but some aspects are interesting.


As for the ending, only after watching the film a second time, I noticed this: while the firefighters put out the fire, a woman very similar to the mother, is seen leaving unnoticed from the house, completely intact and even well dressed.

My idea is this: our point of view is distant from the crime scene, maybe we are Elias, probably alive, escaped from the fire. We take refuge in the wheat field, and just as we have seen Lukas throughout the film (although dead), we see the mom come out unscathed from the fire (dead, I think for sure) going towards the wheat field. The scene changes, Elias enters the field to follow the mother, and indeed he meets her, along with Lukas.

Well guys… Are they all three dead? …Is Elias a crazy guy who saves himself? I have no fucking idea.

Picture of Lorena |

Lorena |

I like unusual horror, the kind that gets under your skin and scares you because it's realistic. The anxiety of watching something that, all things considered, could easily appear in the real world. Email me at

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