All posts tagged torture

Sleepless Nights with Goodnight Mommy

Published October 2, 2015 by vfdpixie


Goodnight Mommy (2014, 99 mins.)


Moody twins, cornfields, and an isolated house in the countryside are all ingredients for instant terror in my eyes.  I found it all in Goodnight Mommy, the 2014 Austrian horror that wowed audiences for its disturbing visuals and spiralling story.

Twins Elias and Lukas have to reconnect with their mother after she returns home from extensive surgery.  Her face is obscured by bandages and swollen features, and they are uncertain how to approach her as she seems distant and cold; forgetting sentimental details that make them suspicious.  The boys question her identity, and what should have been an idyllic summer for them turns into a cat and mouse game of shifting realities and sanity as they set out with lethal determination to get their answer.

What this film gives you is precision in its beauty and visual detail.  Each scene is so pleasing to the eye, so well-aligned that you drink in the settings before focusing on the action.  The lush, almost Middle Earth feel to the surrounding forest gives the film an enchanted, fairy tale look, contrasted with the family’s modern and sleek Ikea-on-steroids home that serves as a prison of sorts.  There is a ton of symbolic imagery from tunnels to blurred photographs and crucifixes; and obvious themes of beauty, decay (especially with the children’s odd choice of pets) and renewal, but they never get fully realized as the story takes fun house ride twists of what is real and what is imagined.  I was also disappointed with a reveal that happens far too early in the film.  One thing I enjoy with a horror film is the guess-work, and the mystery aspect was taken away with this one glaring detail.

There was some redemption with the cringe-worthy torture and body horror which worked well as the dynamics switched between mother and sons.  It came hard and fast without lingering too long on excessive gore. Performance-wise, I kept thinking of Michael Haneke’s Funny Games and Pedro Almodovar’s The Skin I Live In as I watched.  Like the characters in these films, mother and sons were all uncomfortably and, for a brief moment elusively, left of center, leaving you wondering what their next move would be. The harshness conveyed by Susanne Wuest as the mother and Elias and Lukas Schwarz as her calculating sons provided lots of tension and suspense.

To sum it up, I liked Goodnight Mommy.  A lot.  I just wanted more exploration, especially with the imagery that became a dead-end, and perhaps a touch more back story (for example, an answer to why the boys seem to be home alone when their mother returns from the hospital).  What you will get from directors Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz is a beautifully filmed and creepy psychological/body horror that is worth a watch even though it lacked some clarity and streamlining.


Here is the Goodnight Mommy trailer that the masses were supposedly terrified over.  I would say it is well crafted but misleading…



Face Off Season 6 Episode 9: Mad Makeup Scientists!

Published March 14, 2014 by vfdpixie

As the artist’s numbers dwindle, Graham pondered his luck with winning the special immunity at the last elimination. He didn’t expect it and felt the pressure to create some outstanding work.  George was correct when he stated that the right person got special immunity because I think Graham’s ideas are different and he has so much more to bring us.
The 8 remaining artists headed to the lab where it was transformed into a torture chamber, complete with jars of icky things which they all loved.  For the Spotlight Challenge inspired by the mad scientists of Island of Dr. Moreau, and American Horror Story: Asylum, they had to become their own mad scientists and create human guinea pigs, picking a medical device from a selection that McKenzie provided to inspire their victims.
Graham chose an electro shock device and decided on a reanimated corpse with lights. He wanted to create a clean and cool makeup, and suffered for his art because the lighting device he created actually shocked him a few times!  I really liked this makeup.  I thought the lights were cool and the face really looked like a cadaver.  The judges liked it better up close and felt it told a story.  He was safe this week.
George picked a ribcage opener.  His concept was to create a victim that was opened and stretched with hooks.  He was going at a good pace until his herniated discs flared up, leaving him in a huge amount of pain.  I completely understand this as a back problem was one of the reasons I stopped doing makeup.  It can be painful and debilitating, and I admired him for carrying on.  He pushed through to create a really good effect with some gross looking wounds.  The judges liked the staining on the paint job and they thought was really cool.  Thankfully after all the pain, he was safe.
Chloe picked an antique amputation saw.  She went for a Frankenstein’s monster type victim that came out of a black and white movie.  When Mr. Westmore advised her to make sure her sculpting was more realistic, she really took her time with this sculpt and stayed calm despite the race against time.  Even though she didn’t have time to do an amputation like she had planned for, the judges overlooked it because of the overall beauty of the character.  They thought the black and white concept worked well, and Glenn thought it was a “laudable choice” and unique.  The bold concept and risks that she took set her apart and they thought it was one of her finest makeups. She was in the top looks.
Rashaad chose a trephine, a device that makes circular incisions in skulls. Since he was more of a sci-fi creator, he struggled for a concept and kept drawing a blank. He finally came up with a mad plastic surgeon that made women grotesque instead of beautiful.  This was a great concept and Mr. Westmore advised him to use different flesh tones for a patchwork effect. Sadly, he didn’t take the advice, and his makeup suffered.  The judges thought there wasn’t enough colour variation or defined skin patches, and it didn’t make sense, especially the randomly place jawbone on the model’s chin.  It was, to them, a less than riveting makeup and a not fully realized concept.  He was in the bottom looks.
Tyler used an embalming pump for his conjoined twin creation. He made the two faces twist and wrap around each other.  I really loved this makeup.  It was really creepy and looked like something out of a mad scientist’s lab.  The judges loved the profile of the faces and the paint job. He was safe for another week.
Daran picked a pneumatic bone auger, and went for a 3 faced experiment. He looked forward to this challenge, as he really wanted to do a realistic makeup.  Mr. Westmore told him to be careful about the placement of the faces, and he took that to heart by tweaking his design.  Speaking of designs, Daran felt that Tyler was copying his concept.  While they were both creating twisted, distorted faces, their makeups were sufficiently different. I ‘ve gotta say that as I watch Daran throughout the show, even though he is darn cute, I really don’t care for him.  He is a great artist, but his quiet demeanour can’t hide the fact that is kind of douche-y.  Just sayin’…anyway, his makeup was pretty amazing.  I liked that the placement of the model’s face in respect to the other two faces was seamless.  The judges thought it was “wild” and impressive for the amount of time he had.  They also felt it was alive and not just a concept.  His “ingenious”, “stellar and creepy” design was in the top looks.
Niko got an antique hand drill and went for a mad scientist that steals a baby from a pregnant woman with said hand drill.  He was worried the concept would offend the judges, but he went with it anyway.  Although he still struggled with his time management, he created a creepy, bloody makeup.  I thought it was gross and scary, and I loved character’s face.  The judges liked the paint job, but Ve thought it was in poor taste.  I’m not so sure about that judgement.  What about Tyler’s conjoined twin, or Rashaad’s plastic surgery victim?  There are real cases of people who have disfigurements and would be offended by most horror creatures and themes, in fact, most, if not all, horror is in poor taste, so I don’t think Niko deserved that.  The 2007 French extreme film Inside deals with exactly what Niko created, and it won awards for best horror movie.  Anyway, he was safe for another week.
Corrine got leeches as her device, and went for a “really gross concept” of leeches on uncomfortable parts of the body.  Mr. Westmore told her to keep it gross, but she had trouble with her concept overall, and felt that she didn’t do enough.  She kept going for minimal, but I think she needed to be more versatile as a whole.  I thought it looked lame, and the judges thought the leeches didn’t look right.  She knew she had made poor decisions, and the judges solidified that by calling the character a “Bondage Rambo” that was devoid of visual interest, and changing the model’s jaw line didn’t add anything to the makeup as a whole. They were underwhelmed by this so she was in the bottom looks.
Out of the top looks, even though they thought Chloe had a bold concept and clean application, Daran won this time.  They loved his “outrageously good execution” and the anatomical choices that flowed with the faces. Even though I dislike him, I thought it was a good choice for the winning concept.
Corrine went home.  They felt that her work was uninspired this time and too simple for this stage of the competition.  They know she will do well in the industry, and even though she admitted to struggling with concepts throughout the show, left feeling inspired for the future.

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