I was really looking forward to this Austrian horror movie. The trailer looked incredibly creepy; the elevator pitch is simple, a mother returns home after cosmetic surgery and her two ten-year-old sons begin to suspect that it isn’t really their mom under those bandages. It’s a compelling premise and the film works for a while. The first third of the movie is really quite superlative, taking place essentially entirely in the stark modernist home of the trio. The mother slinks through the shadows, her face perpetually hidden; the boys whisper to each other in corners; the tension slowly builds. This section of the film is very creepy and quite beautifully shot. The film holds together up until about the last third; there’s a twist at this last third that I found myself getting increasingly frustrated over. Just in case you plan to see it, though I wouldn’t recommend it, no spoilers, but let’s just say that the three main characters find themselves in a situation that they could get out of INCREDIBLY EASILY at least two different ways (one of them very prominently mentioned EARLIER IN THE FILM). You’d think the one that got mentioned earlier in passing would pay off here, but it doesn’t and I found it deeply frustrating. And then the film just continues to strain credulity until it gets to a second huge twist right at the end of the film and I think it’s this twist, which casts the entire film in a new light, is the reason a lot of people are praising the film. They’re in essence letting a genuinely great twist save the movie. And the twist is brilliant . . . if it made sense. It doesn’t. When the twist first happened, I admit I was so shocked that I sat up straight and thought of a few moments from earlier in the film that this twist kind of explained. And then my mind was just instantly flooded with moment after moment after moment that COULDN’T HAVE HAPPENED. And what’s even worse is that IMMEDIATELY AFTER THE TWIST, like literally less than two minutes after the twist, there’s ANOTHER MOMENT THAT IS LITERALLY IMPOSSIBLE!! ARRRRGGGHHHH! Infuriating! Because that was a damn great twist and with only a little extra effort the filmmakers could have made the rest of the film actually scan with the film. I’m not sure if those moments that invalidate the twist were just overlooked or what. It seems odd that I just thought of them all without even trying and yet the filmmakers couldn’t see them. But this is the debut film for these filmmakers, so perhaps that explains it. Anyway, the film was intriguing in a lot of ways and occasionally was superlative, so much so that I’m anxious to see what these filmmakers do next. Maybe their second time out, they’ll catch more of their mistakes before the film gets released. As for this one; I have to recommend against it. 2 stars.
tl;dr – a great premise and masterful direction can’t save this plot-hole laden horror film, especially when the film trots out a twist that makes no sense at all. 2 stars.