Naomi Watts helps reinvent a nightmarish Austrian thriller

Naomi Watts had some reservations about doing the Austrian horror again” Good night mom.”

The 2014 film from directors Veronika Franz and Severin Fiala about twins who begin to suspect that their mother, covered in surgical bandages, isn’t really their mother had achieved some sort of cult status. It was the kind of believability that both made him a perfect candidate for an English-language remake and made everyone nervous: what if they were wrong?

“The original, to me, is a pretty perfect movie in my book,” Watts said. “Why would we do another one?”

But director Matt Sobel didn’t want to do a shot-for-shot remake. He had another idea, a sort of reimagining that would illuminate different themes in the story. Their take, also called “Goodnight Mommy”, is currently available on Prime Video.

“I’m not a fan of redoing something because people are too lazy to read subtitles,” Sobel said. “I would always say that in the same way that a re-staged ‘The Taming of the Shrew’ with the genres reversed means something different, our story should mean something unique.”

Sobel added, “I would like to invite people who don’t think they would like horror movies to watch our film.”

To play the twins, Elias and Lukas, the filmmakers cast Cameron Crovetti and Nicholas Crovetti, the 14-year-old identical twin brothers who played Nicole Kidman’s sons in “Big Little Lies.”

The Crovettis were enthusiastic about the project. They remembered seeing and being freaked out by the trailer for the original.

“We were really obsessed with horror movies,” said Nicholas Crovetti, who plays Lukas. “I mean we still are.”

Still, liking the idea of ​​a psychological thriller and starring in one are different things. Watts and Sobel made it a priority to make sure the young actors and their mother were okay on set.

“For me, playing a mom in any movie with any story, I always want to get a little bit involved with the kids and understand how much they understand or if they show up and say their lines, that which happens sometimes,” Watts said. “Obviously, this one being deeply psychological, that was even more important.”

They would play puns between takes and sometimes even take a break to nerf gun battles or play soccer on the property with various craftsmen, trying to keep it looking lighthearted during some of the more intense scenes. But it was a challenge even for Watts, who constantly worried about their well-being and whether or not they were putting on a brave face. During one particularly brutal scene involving water, Watts asked to stop frequently.

“It wasn’t an easy process the whole time,” Watts said.

For Nicholas Crovetti, the weight of emotional scenes doesn’t stop until they’re over.

“Once you finish the scene, I think that’s when you really say to yourself, OK, I’m done,” he said. “And then you can really, you know, feel less stressed about the scene and then, you know, then you’re more relaxed.”

Sobel decided to keep the heavy hitter of its young stars until they were ready to film the final scenes. He remembers it was a heartbreaking moment for everyone when he and screenwriter Kyle Warren told them what was going to happen.

“For the majority of our production, they had a script that ended on page 85 and then said ‘keep going,'” Sobel said. “I remember at the time, we were all pretty shocked at how raw it was for them.”

Now the Crovettis are excited for audiences to have a similar experience.

“It’s one of those movies that you really need, after watching it, to see it again,” said Cameron Crovetti.

One horror they haven’t tackled yet, however, is “The Ring,” starring Watts in Gore Verbinski’s 2002 Japanese horror remake. They thought about it, back when they had “10 or 11” and were auditioning for “Goodnight Mommy”, but decided against it.

“I was too scared,” Cameron Crovetti said. “I should watch it now though.”

“I’m a lot less scary in this movie,” Watts promised.

Follow AP Film Writer Lindsey Bahr on Twitter: www.twitter.com/ldbahr

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