Goodnight Mommy: Is the Movie Inspired by a True Story or a Book?

‘Goodnight Mommy’ is an Amazon Studios psychological horror film that revolves around twins Elias (Cameron Crovetti) and Lukas (Nicholas Crovetti). At the start of the movie, they come to live with their mother (Naomi Watts) at her home in the countryside and soon start to believe that something is different about their mother. She wears a mask, leaving only her eyes and mouth visible. She claims that she has undergone cosmetic surgery, but the twins conclude that an imposter is hiding behind the mask and resolves to find out where their real mother is by any means necessary.

‘Goodnight Mommy’ is a psychological thriller that explores themes such as trauma, grief, and abuse. If that has made you wonder whether it is based on real events, we’ve got you covered.

Goodnight Mommy: An English Remake of a 2014 Austrian Film

‘Goodnight Mommy’ isn’t based on a true story, nor is it an adaptation of a book. It is actually an English remake of the 2014 Austrian film of the same name, written and directed by Veronika Franz and Severin Fial. The amazon remake was helmed by filmmaker Matt Sobel, who developed the project from a script by Kyle Warren.

In a September 2022 interview with Slash Film, Sobel admitted that he was initially not interested in the project and passed it on. Although he saw the original film when it came out and liked it, he wasn’t a fan of the idea of remaking a film for people who can’t be bothered to read the subtitles. However, a conversation with Warren eventually changed his mind. They decided to make a movie that would be less about translating German into English and more about adapting the fundamental aspects of the original film and then giving them their own spin.

Image Credit: David Giesbrecht/Amazon Studios

“[It was] more about, I’ll use the word “transcribing,” because I think it’s kind of more like the way in which a melody could be transcribed into a different key and given all sorts of different emotional valances in the process of taking the kind of basic elements of the story in the original film and then reshaping them to give the story a new theme and perhaps even a different genre than the original film,” Sobel said.

With this project, Sobel tried something quite common on stage but not so on screen. “I called back the producers and said, ‘I have an idea. Can we call it a reimagining and can the story be about this theme?’ Which is really most interesting to myself and Kyle, and that is the human tendency to try and always see ourselves as the heroes or the victims of our own stories and to avoid seeing ourselves as the villains and all of the ways in which we’ll lie to ourselves, or lie to other people, or change the way that we see the world, so that can always be true,” he explained.

According to Sobel, what bothers Elias the most in the original film is the fear of loneliness. But in his version, Elias is afraid to face the ramifications of his actions. “It began with the script, but it really went all the way up until even after we locked picture because a huge part of that was the music and the sound design, too,” the ‘Take Me to the River’ director stated in a September 2022 interview with ComicBook. “So it could happen the entire time. Elias is a boy who’s living in a very upsetting reality, and rather than seeing that, he chooses to see a dark fantasy instead.”

Sobel continued, “That dark fantasy is the movie that we’re watching for the first 90% of the movie, and so it feels somewhat heightened. It feels somewhat stylized and that’s on purpose, because that’s the movie in his mind. It’s not the hard, brutal reality, and, I don’t know if you’ll notice, but there’s no handheld used in the film until the very end, and that’s because we wanted to visually support this idea that we are in a more stylized and more clean fantasy of his, where the corners, the rough edges are all smoothed out. And then as soon as we are forced out of that, it’s very brutal and raw and suddenly everything’s handheld.” Clearly, Amazon Studios’ ‘Goodnight Mommy’ is not based on a true story but a reimagining of a 2014 Austrian film.

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