Goodnight Mommy Reviews Are Here, And The Critics Seem To Agree About How The Naomi Watts Thriller Stands Up To The Original

·5 min read
 Naomi Watts in Goodnight Mommy.
Naomi Watts in Goodnight Mommy.

Remakes and reimaginings are still all the rage, even as the horror genre has been pushing the boundaries in past years. But Naomi Watts proved with The Ring that adapting foreign horror movies can have fantastic results, and she’s set to try it again with the upcoming release of Goodnight Mommy, which will be available to Amazon Prime subscribers on September 16. Can this Austrian remake, directed by Matt Sobel, live up the original, which was one of the best horror movies of this century? The reviews are here, and the critics seem to be in agreement in regards to answering that question.

Naomi Watts will star as the titular Mother, whose face is covered in bandages following a supposed cosmetic surgery. When her twin boys (Cameron and Nicholas Crovetti) arrive at her country home, it’s quickly obvious that something is different about their mom, and the duo start to question the identity of the person they are living with. Let’s see what critics are saying.

Meagan Navarro of Bloody Disgusting rates the movie 3 skulls out of 5, praising Naomi Watts’ “captivating” performance, which the critic enjoys more than those of the Crovetti brothers. There is more character development but less dread in the updated version, the review states:

Sobel’s remake and the narrative might better obscure the truth, making those reveals hit harder. A few gruesome horror moments and a captivating performance by Watts also elevate this remake. Goodnight Mommy doesn’t achieve that same high key level of palpable dread as the 2014 version, but it makes for an effective introduction for those unfamiliar with the tale.

Patrick Cavanaugh of ComicBook.com also rates the film a 3 out of 5, agreeing that something is lost in Matt Sobel’s decision to focus on different aspects of the narrative than the Austrian original. However, these critics don’t agree when it comes to the actors, as this review states that the Crovettis, and particularly Cameron, are on par with Naomi Watts, and without the trio’s confident performances, Goodnight Mommy would not be a success. This critic says:

The narrative in both films is undeniably engaging, keeping audiences on their toes with what this family is capable of doing to one another and what the truth of the situation really is. While this version works on its own as a relatively thrilling experience that leads to an unexpected ending, it still feels like a restrained version of the source material. The cast absolutely elevates the intimate experience, making for a worthy endeavor for horror fans to embark on, with this take on the material potentially resonating more strongly with those interested in mind-bending thrillers, though those who already have an established affinity for the work of filmmakers Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala will likely be left wanting.

Alyse Wax of Collider is on the same page, calling this movie a great thriller, as long as you’re unfamiliar with the original. With that condition in place, the reviewer grades the remake a B, but that grade lowers to a C when comparing it to the Austrian version:

The original Austrian film, released in 2014, is a lot more akin to a horror film than this American remake, directed by Matt Sobel. As it stands, this is a very good psychological thriller. If you hadn’t seen the original (which I had), it will keep you guessing until the very end. Is that really Mommy beneath those bandages, or is this some kind of pod-person thing? And why does she want the boys to stay out of the barn? It is intriguing, it is tense, but it is not scary. No jump scares; nothing for the squeamish to get nervous about.

The remake falling into the psychological thriller category rather than horror, like the original, is a running theme throughout many of the reviews. David Rooney of THR, like his peers, says this isn’t going to keep anyone awake at night:

Tension and suspense are sacrificed here. The filmmakers seem more interested in exploring the violation of the sacred trust between a mother and her children for psychological drama than scares. That’s a valid enough choice, just not especially gripping in this telling. The perverse distortions of familial bonds in the Austrian movie felt genuinely subversive. Sobel and Warren’s take insists on grounding everything in trauma that’s so carefully signaled you’ll likely see the big twist coming.

Michael Nordine of Variety says the film was better than he expected it to be, but there is really no reason to have a remake of the original, which is less than 10 years old. However, it could be a pleasant surprise for those who don’t know the twist of the original:

So are the boys delusional, or is ‘Mother’ not Mother at all? Goodnight Mommy never makes it obvious, blurring the lines between paranoid thriller and psychological horror more effectively than you’d expect of a remake whose changes to its source material don’t necessitate the kind of bandages its star covers herself in. Also porous are the lines that separate villain from victim, roles that keep shifting back and forth between the children and their mother.

The critics all seem to be in agreement that the Naomi Watts-led remake doesn’t live up to the horror of its Austrian predecessor, but newcomers to the story are likely to enjoy the psychological thriller. Goodnight Mommy will be available for streaming on Amazon’s Prime Video on Friday, September 16. You can also check out some more upcoming horror movies, and start planning your next trip to the theater with our 2022 Movie Release Schedule.