Posts Tagged ‘Susanne Wuest’

Juli Jakab

“SUNSET” My rating: B 

142 minutes | MPAA rating: R

Hungarian filmmaker Laszlo Nemes, who burst upon the world scene a couple of years back with the harrowing concentration camp drama “Son of Saul,” steps even further back in time with his sophomore effort, “Sunset.”

Shortly before the outbreak of the first world war, Irisz Leiter (Juli Jakab) returns to Budapest, where she was orphaned at the age of two.  Her goal is to get a job at the famous hat store founded by her late parents and which still bears her family  name..

Her return to the city of her birth sets off a series of puzzling and threatening events. Brill (Vlad Ivanov), the courtly current owner of Leiter’s, gives her a job making hats and seems  benevolent if businesslike. But Irisz starts getting odd vibes about the other young women working there, some of whom have disappeared with little trace.

A scary man appears in Irisz’s bedroom to threaten her; she learns that she has an older brother of whom she has been unaware, a notorious criminal leading a deadly anarchist gang.  In fact, this mystery sibling already has staged an assassination attempt on Brill.


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Elias and Lukas Schwarz

Elias and Lukas Schwarz


99 minutes | MPAA rating: R

In horror movies, twins mean trouble.

There’s something about the intimate relations between these womb sharers that freaks out the folk who make and attend horror films, something creepy and secret that the rest of us can barely perceive and certainly cannot understand.

In Severin Fiala and Veronika Franz’s “Goodnight Mommy” (the women co-wrote and co-directed) little Lukas and Elias (Lukas and Elias Schwarz) are first seen playing in a field of towering corn. Then they move on to a mystical looking woods. They make crude creepy masks out of cardboard, paint and assorted objects.

The boys seem fairly normal — they wrestle, taunt each other, exchange slaps. And then Mom comes home.

Mother (Susanne Wuest) is first seen in a prologue. Apparently she’s an actress, for we see her in a film clip playing a mother surrounded by a large brood of children in traditional German dress (the Von Trapps, maybe?). She sings to them as the scene ends.


Susanne Wuest

Now, however, she appears at the family’s country home with her head wrapped in bandages, looking disturbingly like the skull-headed Jack Skellington from “The Nightmare Before Christmas.”  Apparently she’s had some plastic surgery (or maybe she had a medical issue…it’s not very clear), but the boys are clearly freaked and a bit dubious about this wraithlike presence who demands total silence.

In fact, little Lukas suggests that this isn’t their mother at all, but some replacement.

Dad is a no-show — the marriage is on the rocks — and the boys seek assistant and comfort from a local priest. But who’s going to believe their paranoid fantasy?

With no help forthcoming from the adult world, the grim little guys take things into their own hands, and this is where the film becomes astonishingly disturbing and violent.

What is it about German filmmakers? “Goodnight Mother” seems inspired by  Michael Haneke’s “Funny Games,” in which a pair of creeps imprison and torment a suburban family vacationing at their lake home. That the nastiness here is being dished out by two angelic-looking but demonically unforgiving little boys makes things even more unsettling.

“Goodnight Mother” pulls a switcheroo by first having us side with Elias and Lukas and then, as things turn ugly, shifting our sympathies to Mother. Ultimately the film delivers a “Sixth Sense-ish” twist that explains all, but not before establishing a nerve-gnawing atmosphere of quiet desperation and paranoia.

| Robert W. Butler

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