It's unavoidable for people who enjoy movies to compare remakes to their source films. While American audiences may refuse to read subtitles, and English-language remakes open the film to wider audiences, it's equally true that a certain portion of the audience for any remake wants to see what a film has gained or lost in a second translation to the screen.
Remakes lose something in the update process, but horror films suffer more than most. Outliers include Let the Right One In's superb American remake Let Me In. It retains the tension and tension in the original, but Matt Reeves, the filmmaker of The Batman and Cloverfield, did not intend to emulate Let the Right One In.
Sometimes, remakes go horribly wrong. On the extreme end of the spectrum, there's a new poster child for how not to remake a film: Goodnight Mommy in the United States.
After a long festival run around the globe, Austrian horror film Goodnight Mommy was released in 2015, a brazen, unflinching horror film coming from a country that is less well-known for its comedy and historic dramas. The film (like the remake) is sufficiently creepy to state that its kids are capable of spooking even the most seasoned horror enthusiasts.
The most important question loomed when the English-language remake of Goodnight Mommy was announced. It fails to reach the original film in terms of terror and on-screen suffering, but it does not really work as a film in its own right.
Naomi Watts will play the titular Mommy in the new adaptation of The Ring and Funny Games, which have been released in English. She may have seemed like an easy choice for the lead of yet another American remake of an international horror film. The remake's flaws arent due to her lack of craft or effort, the issues lie solely in the writing and directorial work.
Elias and Lucas are twins who have just been dropped off at their mothers Connecticut farmhouse after she apparently separated from their father. The two boys are both surprised at first, but gradually loosen up as they begin to settle into their new family structure.
Goodnight Mommy drops the ball in this instant, and it never picks it back up. This film, which is based on Matt Sobel, a director and producer on Netflixs Brand New Cherry Flavor, does not attempt to create an atmosphere, tension, or any kind of terrifying ambiguity throughout the film. For fans of the original, the loss of everything is devastating.
Add to all of this the fact that these boys aren't very weird. Twins are a major horror trope, capable of igniting the uncanny and provoking uneasy feelings in films without much explanation. (Just look at Stanley Kubricks The Shining). Elias and Lucas are completely ignorant of any and all character development in the original version of these twins, who kept cockroaches as pets, made strange masks, and tingled viewers' spines by communicating wordlessly.
A few minor minor flaws are added to the mix of disappointing or confusing situations throughout the film. Mother and the children are met with strange and misplaced sexual moments while Elias spies on her, and there are cheap jump scares from both that aren't consistent with the characters or circumstances. Not even to mention the nearly bloodless conclusion, which is both poorly shot and takes as a given that the Ice Bucket Challenge is an extreme body horror similar to the original film.
Goodnight Mommy, a 2014 horror film, is one of the greatest films of the last decade, but nearly every element that contributed to that quality has been overlooked or reversed in this abysmal remake. Not all remakes are absolute failures, but this one is. The original version is available for free on Vudu and Tubi, but the new version isn't worth seeing at the same price point.
On September 16, Goodnight Mommy will be released on Prime Video.