Amazon Studios remake of 2014’s Goodnight Mommy is a well-acted, constructed movie that chooses to focus on the devastation of grief and guilt. The chilling original Austrian film is a savage film with a brutal twist. This remake features the same elements but is reworked more softly. As a result, Goodnight Mommy(2022) is not as psychologically affecting or as mean-spirited as the original but is still worth a watch.
Twin boys Elias(Cameron Crovetti) and Lucas(Nicholas Crovetti) are dropped off at their mother’s house after some extended time apart. Instead of their loving mother, an otherworldly Naomi Watts(Mulholland Drive), they find a bandaged woman who is cold and unfeeling. She doesn’t seem like the same woman who cared for them. Has something invaded the boys’ home and taken over their mother’s body? As the film unfolds, the tragic truth comes out. Here’s everything you need to know about the ending of Goodnight Mommy and how it differs from the original.
The ending of Goodnight Mommy
Throughout Goodnight Mommy, Lucas, and Elias doubt the bandaged woman in their house is their mother. The mask hides her face and hair, and she behaves oddly. She demands quiet, keeps the blinds closed, ignores Lucas, and has forgotten their bedtime song. She also is quick to anger and lashes out physically at Elias several times. Mother seems very angry with Lucas in particular and rips up a picture Elias draws of his mother and brother. The boys also overhear a phone conversation between Mother and some unknown person where she says she can’t go on pretending. She also laments that she wants someone gone. The boys immediately fear the worst.
After they run to a neighbor’s house during a storm and are returned home by the authorities, things escalate. Despite her trying to explain why she looks different, Lucas doubts her. She explains she has contacts that change the color of her eyes and that she had cosmetic surgery to help her get a new start. She is a fading star and is vain, but not an evil doppelganger or shapeshifter. Lucas lies to Elias about the contacts, and Elias leaves her duct taped to the bed with her mouth covered. The boys contact an Uber and pack a small bag.
Elias returns to the house at the last minute and discovers his mother’s contacts. He knows Lucas has been lying to him and releases his mother. She asks him to go with her to the barn and shows him the blood stain he saw earlier. He thought it was proof she wasn’t his mother, but she forces him to confront the real truth. Elias and Lucas were playing with a gun in the barn, and Elias accidentally shot and killed his brother prior to the events of the movie. He has been unable to face that reality since then. Elias and his mother hug, and it seems like everything will be better, but when she pushes him to remember, he lashes out and shoves her off the loft.
Either she falls to her death or is knocked unconscious by the fall. Her lantern breaks, and the barn catches fire. Elias leaves the barn and his mother behind. He kneels in the grass, crying and vomiting in shock and sadness. Lucas doesn’t make an appearance after he releases his mother until the final shot because Elias was willing to accept the truth, but after the trauma of watching his mother die in the fire, he retreats into his delusion. The fantasy of a living mother and brother is superior to the guilt over being responsible for not one but two of his family members’ deaths.
The differences between the original and Amazon’s 2022 version
The storyline is very similar, and the big twist at the end remains the same. Lucas is dead, and Elias only imagines his brother is still with him. He was Elias’ twin brother, but he died in a terrible accident that Elias refuses to remember. In the original, Lucas drowns, but in the remake, Elias accidentally shoots him. Throughout the film, every time we saw Elias and Lucas talk, it was a hallucination. This is why Mother refused to feed him and did not speak to Lucas. There are a few differences between the two movies.
In the original film, Elias is psychotic and brutally kills his mother, believing she is an imposter. The foreign movie pulls no punches and pits the troubled child against his innocent mother. He tortures her and deliberately sets the house on fire, knowing it will kill her. He glues her mouth shut and secures her to the floor of their home, which he then sets on fire. It is a vicious scene that zeros in on how far gone Elias is. He isn’t just in denial or grieving the loss of his brother. He is mentally ill and cruel.
His pain has made him a monster capable of anything. It is a hard-hitting, scathing indictment of ignorance. There is an intangible ambiguity to Lucas’ death scene that could imply that Elias may have killed his brother or let him die, which adds yet another wrinkle to this Bad Seed story. In this new version, there is little question that Elias accidentally killed his brother and is not an evil kid. Just like Amazon’s version, the idea that all of this could be avoided if Elias got help and the family communicated is clear.
The dream sequences are different in the two movies. In Goodnight Mommy 2022, Elias dreams about his mother shedding her human skin to reveal blackened skin underneath. In the original film, he sees bugs come out of her skin. Neither event is real and entirely imagined things.
There is also no picture of a lookalike for Mother that Elias finds. The 2014 version ramps up the tension when Elias finds an image of his mother standing next to a woman who looks very similar to her. It plays with the idea that there have been two Mother’s all along. Elias believes his mother has kept the other woman, a potential twin like Lucas, from the boys. He now thinks, for unknown reasons, this other woman has killed his mother and taken over her life. The remake omits this entire sequence.
The boys run for help to a neighbor’s house instead of a church, and two police officers, not a priest, return them home. All of these differences add up to make the remake not as horrifying. Instead, Amazon’s movie leans harder into the sadness and grief while largely ignoring the disturbing, sadistic qualities ever present in the Austrian version.
The brothers aren’t as overtly creepy as they are in the Austrian original. The remake waters down their weirdness and plays up their confusion and vulnerability. There is no collection of cockroaches or dead cats in Goodnight Mommy(2022). There are no masks besides Mother’s. The symbolism of the bugs in the original is used to show the ugly things that hide in the dark. Beneath the surface calmness of the house, Mother, and Elias lurk an awful truth. Elias is deeply disturbed and needs help that he won’t get. The new remake lacks all of these nuances and highlights instead the tragedy and sorrow of what has happened.
Foreshadowing in Goodnight Mommy
In early scenes, the twins play outside, and Elias shoots at cherry tomato plants in the garden. He misses every time. The idea that these boys were allowed to shoot at things outside by themselves as young as they were is possible, but it leaves questions. The Mother we are introduced to in the opening credits is doting, but this masked Mother is absentee, lending to her otherness. Either she has stopped caring for the boys or is someone different who never cared about them.
When Goodnight Mommy reveals its heartbreaking twist, we see that this family was torn apart by a gun. It’s very possible that Elias wasn’t shooting a gun in the yard in the beginning at all. This could have been one more hallucination of his. Even as medicated and depressed as Mother was, it is unlikely she allowed him to play with a gun unsupervised after he killed his brother in the same way.
Additionally, the horrific dream sequence where Mother’s skin is ripped back to expose her blackened skin foreshadows her burning to death in the final act. The effective body horror scene is visually reminiscent of Black Swan’s fingernail scene. Lastly, the weird book choice at the movie’s beginning hints that this family has hidden secrets. Once the skin is peeled back, it shows nothing is as it seems.
There are a lot of themes to unpack in Goodnight Mommy. Mental illness, repression, lack of communication, duality, and the identities we choose are all explored. Although Amazon Studios’ remake is not quite the horror movie the original was, it is still a troubling psychological study in pain. Like Babadook before it, this film creates monsters out of sadness. However, the monster, in this case, is a fragile child.
Goodnight Mommy is available to stream on Prime Video today.
As the Managing Editor for Signal Horizon, I love watching and writing about genre entertainment. I grew up with old-school slashers, but my real passion is television and all things weird and ambiguous. My work can be found here and Travel Weird, where I am the Editor in Chief.