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Goodnight, Mommy/Ich seh ich seh


Stars: Susanne Wuest, Lukas Schwarz, Elias Schwarz, Hans Escher, Elfriede Schatz, Karl Purker, Georg Deliovsky, Christian Steindl, Christian Schatz, Erwin Schmalzbauer

Director: Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala

Every week, another horror movie, as inevitable as teenage acne and all too often as unendurable and far from being up to scratch as a genre offering.

Not this uniquely frightening shocker.

After opening with soothing footage of the Von Trapp children singing a lullaby, Austrian writer-directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala introduce young twin brothers Lukas and Elias Scharz joyfully running through sun-drenched farm fields. I half expected Gordon MacRae to turn up following the Von Trapps and sing. ‘Oh What a Beautiful Morning’.


What follows is even more terrifying than Rod Steiger’s horrific hamming in Oklahoma! and cleverly delivered by Franz and Fiala without resorting to obvious and nowadays badly overused ‘make you jump’ horrorfilm tropes.

Chills set in when the brothers’ mother Susanne Wuest returns home after major facial surgery, hidden by bandages, Invisible Man-style. And motherliness is painfully absent as she begins to give the boys an increasingly hard time.

Before long the lads begin to wonder if she really is their mother… but how to prove it?

After which Franz and Fiala rack up inexorable suspense and one or two genuinely unexpected plot twists.

I know that it’s a critical cliché to claim that saying any more would be unfair. While this classic escape clause too often covers deep critical slumber during a film (“Sleep is criticism!” claimed Oscar Levant), here it applies completely…

In essence, it could possibly claim to be the scariest thing to come out of Austria since Hitler.

Alan Frank

Austria 2014. UK Distributor: Vertigo Films. Colour.
100 minutes. Widescreen. UK certificate: 15.

Guidance ratings (out of 3): Sex/nudity 1, Violence/Horror 3, Drugs 0, Swearing 1.

Review date: 04 Mar 2016