Bil’s rating (out of 5): BBBB
Original title: Ich seh, Ich seh
Austria, 2014. Ulrich Seidl Film Produktion GmbH. Screenplay by Veronika Franz, Severin Fiala. Cinematography by Martin Gschlacht. Produced by Ulrich Seidl. Music by Olga Neuwirth. Production Design by Hubert Klausner, Hannes Salat. Costume Design by Tanja Hausner. Film Editing by Michael Palm. European Film Awards 2015. Toronto International Film Festival 2014.
In an ultra-modern mansion in the Austrian countryside, a woman recovers from plastic surgery, isolated in her house except for the presence of her precocious twin sons. The children spend their days being told to stay quiet for her to recuperate, her face covered by Franju-worthy bandages that give her haunting, almost grotesque eyes. The boys can only take so much of her tired, frustrated attitude before they start to wonder: is that actually their mother or is she an impostor? She has no patience for them and pretends to sleep when they want to talk to her, surely this cannot be the woman who raised them. A photograph of another woman who looks just like her is used as evidence of the fact that this bitter, tired person is not the loving caregiver they once knew. Hints of a recent trauma and unhappiness in the family makes for a richer picture as the actions from these two go from inquisitive to unpleasant to just plain dark: tying her up, torturing her and interrogating her, the boys become more determined that she is a phony the more she protests. Her situation becomes more dangerous and desperate in a horror film that will make you look into refund options on your own children; make no mistake, as intelligent and well directed as this film is, it is not for the squeamish. It’s a brilliantly tense experience that is all the more terrifying for using techniques of the genre but situating them in the real world, and the performances are fascinating.