By Brendan Graham
The horror community has a love/hate relationship with remakes, and I can understand why especially when it comes to foreign language affairs. Is it because viewers are afraid to read subtitles or rather, they don't want to? Would they prefer a version with a recognizable actor or a more modernized setting? I don’t believe this is always the case, sometimes we’d like to see a familiar story retold in a different way, maybe not as a replacement for the original, but perhaps as a companion piece. Everyone has a different perception of a remake, and that’s perfectly fine and respectable. In my own opinion, a remake needs to be able to hold its own and it needs to have a purpose, and while I did find 2022’s retelling of GOODNIGHT MOMMY to be well told and well acted, I'm not convinced that it was necessary, however.
In the film, twin brothers Lukas and Elias (Played by real-life twin brothers, Nicholas and Cameron Crovetti) are being dropped off by their father to stay with their mother (Naomi Watts) whom they haven't seen in quite some time. Upon arrival, they are greeted by their mother but her face is all bandaged up from a cosmetic facial surgery she has undergone. At first, it’s a tad awkward for the boys to learn all of the new rules placed in the house and there’s some discomfort from just how cold their mother is acting towards them. Something doesn’t feel right to Lukas however, and he starts convincing his brother that this may not be their mother at all - but in fact an imposter.
If you haven’t seen the original film, I will not be spoiling the twist that is present in both films but I highly suggest you check out the original Austrian film from 2014 as soon as possible, it’s quite chilling. This newer version does have its own charms. Visually, I found the movie to be better put together than the original with some fantastic cinematography work and lighting. The small cast is quite excellent in this film, with some great performances from the Crovetti twins who really sell the fear of the unknown and the anxiety that comes from potentially living with a stranger. Naomi Watts is excellent as always and easily switches from being incredibly charming and warm, to cold and indifferent. She can be quite frightening when she wants to be, which works to the film’s advantage. I also appreciated the fantastic makeup effect work in this film to make Naomi Watts look a bit more weathered and tired.
Where the two films greatly differ, is the lack of real sharp intensity in this remake. The original plays mean, whereas the remake is far more toned down and generic. They’ve simplified the means of torture the twins inflict on their mother, which also lessens the impact of those actions in my opinion but the tone down in violence may be a welcome change for some audiences, however, so that’s worth noting. Honestly, the remake plays it too safe which can be a little disappointing if you’ve seen the original. What is still quite prevalent in this version is some distressing sequences of child abuse, so keep that in mind as well.
GOODNIGHT MOMMY (2022) is a well made, and well-acted little thriller that should stream well for audiences that may not be familiar with the original material or it could sit a bit better for folks who couldn’t enjoy the original because of how shocking it could be. As far as remakes go, this is one of the better ones but personally, I don’t think it’s terribly necessary when the original is so strong to begin with.
GOODNIGHT MOMMY (2022) is now streaming on Amazon Prime.