Among the main contenders for Best Foreign Language Feature, there really isn’t anything else like Goodnight Mommy. A genre film that hues closer horror than anything else, it really stands out, in particular for the tension it manages to build over the course of its running time. A few weeks ago, I got the chance to sit down with filmmakers Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz to discuss their movie, and with the flick hitting Blu-Ray and DVD this week (perhaps even yesterday, depending on when you’re reading this), now seems like the perfect time to run it. Below you’ll see the highlights of my interview with Fiala and Franz, and be sure to check out Goodnight Mommy. It’s a really solid film, with a twist you’ll definitely want to talk about!
Here now is the best of my chat with Fiala and Franz:
On the experience of making their film and having it go from a small title to a potential Academy Award nominee
Severin Fiala – It’s fun! But it’s also good to let it go now, or else we’d never get to make another!
It started as just let’s trying writing this thing, it could be fun. Then, we thought about who could direct it, then decided to maybe try it for ourselves. It was a step by step thing and we never thought about how it would come out. Of course, when you make a film it’s so intimidating and you’re always doubting yourself. You never know, you don’t know if it’s good or interesting to anyone else. Like, if people had come up to us and said it was the most shitty movie of all time, we possibly would have believed them, since we were so close to it. So, it’s actually kind of even more amazing how it turned out.
Veronika Franz – I think we started out by just trying to make a film that we would like to see in a cinema. As we kind of became friends and our friendship grew by watching film, they’d be all different kinds. We kind of, on that basis, had this idea for Goodnight Mommy and started writing, not caring if it would be an art film or a horror film or a psychological thriller. We didn’t care about the boxes you would put it in.
SF – In Austria it’s different because it’s all private money and state funded, so you don’t have to really sell your idea, saying you want to make this horror film because the time is right or because it would make a lot of money. We were just interested in this idea and wanted to write the story because it’s fun for us!
VF – What we really wanted to do was something that has a certain substance to it but would be thrilling at the same time. We don’t want to bore people! We also want to see films that also deal with something, have an issue or two.
SF – It’s a delivery system, the genre. A good means of transporting.
Seeing their film be up for awards consideration as a genre film
SF – We were really kind of amazed that it happened. We think it’s a good sign maybe for horror cinema and this kind of cinema. Obviously, the easiest choice for Foreign Language Feature is to pick something surrounding World War topics or whatever. It’s so, as a foreigner, if you watch the nominees, it’s all like “they really chose those five films?”. They always chose the bad ones, that’s what it used to be, though we feel it’s getting better and better. So maybe there’s a chance for a genre film or a horror film.
Discussing a bit about the twist in Goodnight Mommy and how much coverage it got *(potential Spoiler Alert, obviously)*
SF – Actually, we, while writing and then presenting rough cuts to different people, different drafts of the script, we had the feeling that basically, pretty much everyone sees their own film anyway. You can’t really say for sure that they will get the twist at this point or that point, it’s different for everyone. So, we said it can’t be like the most important thing. We felt it would be interesting for people who get it in the first image and for people who never get it, like my mom. She saw it three times and still doesn’t know about the twist. It’s just a nice movie to her. So, that was important. It’s different movies and we hope it’s interesting and you don’t rely on the twist. All the clues are there, we’re not hiding it. If you want to get it at the beginning, you can, and we’re kind of annoyed at people in reviews saying it fails because they got it early. That’s fine with us, you can get it early and still enjoy the film. That’s okay.
VF – Even our team members, when we had the premiere in Venice, they saw it for the first time, and of course they knew the script, but the shoot was like a year ago, so they kind of just went with the thrill and thought it was quite a ride. When they saw it the second time though, they came up to us and said they liked it even better, because when the thrill is taken away, there’s only the drama left and that talked to me more. It’s really different for everyone.
What’s next for them
SF – There are lots of things on our minds, actually. With all those Oscar type things going on, we haven’t had time to write scripts, but we have five or six or seven or eight ideas or treatments or something like that. They’re all in completely different genres, but all having like a similar feel, kind of like Goodnight Mommy. Disturbing stuff and darker stuff, ranging from historical fiction to even science fiction. But, we don’t know what to do next. We’re trying to figure it out!
There you have the best bits of my interview with Fiala and Franz. Give Goodnight Mommy a look ASAP, especially since it’s now out on Blu-Ray/DVD. Trust me, you’ll be glad that you did…
–Thoughts? Discuss in the comments!