The ‘Goodnight Mommy’ Remake Is a Watchable, if Unnecessary, Double

The year 2022 has seen some absolutely terrible remakes of great films. You will not find many worse films than Firestarter (2022) and  Texas Chainsaw Massacre (2022).

Matt Sobel’s Goodnight Mommy, a remake of the 2014 German film by Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala, is nowhere near those levels of badness. Neither is it a revelation though.

Instead, it’s a faithful, if somewhat bowdlerized, recreation, which seems to exist mostly for American viewers who refuse to read subtitles.

Improving on the original shouldn’t necessarily be that hard, though. The German Goodnight Mommy was a decent film, but not a great one. That twisty plot relies on abandoning its most interesting and powerful themes—as the remake shows once again.

The symbolic power of the film is in its representation of child abuse from a child’s perspective. Elias and Lucas’ mother is a loving, caring woman who would never hurt them.

And then, at the same time, she is this other woman who flies into a rage when they lock their door, strikes them, destroys their things, and devises innovative ways to hurt them.

The boys’ conclusion that their mother is not their mother seems paranoid and fanciful. But it has a metaphorical truth. An abusive parent is the parent you love. And then she’s also someone else, a monster who has taken the loved parent’s shape.

The movie’s most effective moments are when you feel the terror of that and the helplessness. The monster who is the parent is bigger and strong. No one will help you escape from them. Your only hope is that the real mother will come back—but where is she if not standing before you?

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