‘Goodnight Mommy’ (2022) Ending Explained – Who is the woman behind the mask?

Goodnight Mommy Plot Synopsis

Goodnight Mommy is a remake of an Austrian movie of the same name. It focuses on twin brothers Elias and Lukas who visit their famous mother at her country home. On arrival, they discover something strange about their mother. Not only is she wearing a medical mask but she is very different to the person she used to be. Gone are her warm and caring motherly tendencies. Instead, she is cold and distant and sometimes quite aggressive towards the boys.

Elias and Lukas suspect the woman beneath the mask isn’t their mother. But if she isn’t their mother, who could she be? And does she have plans that could harm her children?

Let’s have a closer look at the movie.

Why is the ‘mother’ wearing a mask?

On arrival at their mother’s home, they are surprised to see her wearing a medical mask. This is clearly a surprise to them but she explains that she has had cosmetic surgery and she is wearing the mask until her face heals.

As their mother is an acclaimed actress, it’s not surprising that she might want to retain her beauty. However, there are clues to suggest the woman isn’t their mother after all. As such, it could be that cosmetic surgery is just a convenient way to hide the potential imposter’s identity.

Why do the boys think their mother is an imposter?

Shortly after arrival, their mother gives them some rules. She tells them not to go in the barn, not to make noise, and not to enter her bedroom or office.

It’s not like their mother to make rules like these so this causes Elias and Lukas to be suspicious.

Their suspicions are further aroused when she refuses to sing them the bedtime lullaby that she sang to them when they were younger. She tells them they are too old for goodnight songs but the boys doubt her explanation as they suspect she is an imposter who doesn’t know the words to the lullaby.

The masked woman also throws away a picture Elias gives to her of the family standing together. This is further evidence that she might not be who she claims to be as their mother used to keep their pictures.

Then there are the woman’s eyes. They aren’t the colour that the boys remember and this raises more anxiety for Elias.

When they later go against the woman’s rules and investigate the barn, they notice blood on the wall. At this point, the woman enters the barn and acts aggressively toward them. Again, this behaviour is quite unlike that of their mother.

The boys run away and find shelter in a neighbour’s barn. But when the owner alerts the police, the boys are taken back to their mother’s home. They tell the police the woman living there is an imposter but when the police see the woman, she is without her mask and looks exactly like the boys’ mother.

Elias is sent to his room by the woman but he listens in on the conversation between her and the police. She hears the woman say “He was playing by the pool and must have slipped on some water. It’s terrifying, that line between reality and fantasy—it’s vanished.”

What do these words mean? We find out later in the movie.

Is the woman the boys’ mother?

The boys are still unconvinced about the woman’s claims to be their mother and they think she is a stranger that has had facial reconstructive surgery to look like her.

When she is asleep, they duct-tape her to her bed. When she wakes up, Elias douses her with cold water and demands to know where their real mother is. She tells them she is their mother and when asked about the change in her eye colour, she tells them that she sometimes uses coloured contact lenses.

They are interrupted by the police who have called to check on them. They ask where their mother is and Elias tells them she has gone out somewhere. One of the police is a little unbelieving of this story but when they are called to another job, they leave the boys at home.

Elias and Lukas then run away. But before they get far, Elias tells Lukas he has forgotten his toothbrush. On his return to the house, he finds his mother’s coloured contact lenses.

Now realising that the woman is his mother, he unties her. However, there is another mystery still to be solved. While she isn’t an imposter after all, there is somebody else in Elias’s life that isn’t who they claim to be. The clue to this is in the barn where Elias’ mother takes him to make him face up to the truth.

What does Elias find in the barn?

Elias’ mother tells him to look at the blood-stained wall in the barn. It’s here that he and we notice a bullet hole on the wall.

We learn from Elias’ mother that when he and Lukas were younger, the two of them played with a loaded gun. This resulted in a tragic accident when Elias shot Lukas by mistake.

Lukas was killed but when the mother tries to make Elias face up to this reality, he lashes out at her. She falls from the barn attic and hits the ground below. The lantern she was carrying breaks and it causes the hay to burst into flames.

Elias runs from the barn while behind him the building burns with his mother still inside it. While struggling to comprehend what has happened, Elias looks up and sees both his mother and Lukas coming toward him.  They embrace and his mother tells him that he has done nothing wrong.

Are Elias’ mother and brother alive?

No. It’s clear that Elias is having trouble separating reality from fantasy, which is something his mother talked about earlier in her conversation with the police.

When Elias sees them at the end of the movie, they are hallucinations. This points to the fact that the Lukas we see throughout the movie was also a figment of Elias’ imagination. If you rewatch the movie, you will notice that the mother only talks to Elias and not Lukas, which is a sign that Lukas was never really there. You will also notice that Lukas sometimes appears as Elias’ reflection rather than a living, breathing human being.

Elias’ delusion is a result of the guilt and grief he felt after his brother died. As a way of dealing with the trauma that happened and the loneliness that he felt, he built a world where his brother still existed.

His mother’s behaviour earlier in the movie was also a result of the trauma. She was distant towards her son because of her own grief, which likely resulted in anger toward Elias for accidentally killing his brother. She probably threw away the picture that Elias drew for her because she didn’t want to be reminded of her now-broken family.

The movie is less a horror movie and more a study of grief and how it can affect us. The original 2014 movie had the same themes but be warned, if you do watch the Austrian original, you will discover a move that is far more grim and violent than this one!


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43 thoughts on “‘Goodnight Mommy’ (2022) Ending Explained – Who is the woman behind the mask?”

  1. a ton of mixed comments here. The light in the barn at night, the skin peeling, the mommy monster chasing Elias was all in Elias’ nightmares. Lucas appeared a little younger because he had been deceased for maybe a year. Nobody spoke to Lucas because he was only imagined by Elias. These points were not confusing to me. In the end, Elias escaped the barn and now he imagines both his mom and Lucas.

  2. Why would she buy him even a toy gun when he already accidentally shot and killed his brother? 🙄

  3. Yes yes its all becoming clear but still ….. what was the plate of rotting food in the mothers bedroom when the boys arrived all about ? , and the point of the walkie-talkies?? Poor film really

  4. the fact that Lukas is actually dead explains why we didn’t see him in the closet with Elias when they went into their moms room putting the radio under her bed.

  5. I think the skin peeling scene was a figure of Elias’ imagination and the fact he can’t process how his mother is now treating him or the grief and guilt he feels deep down because he knows Lukas is dead. I also think Elias dies in the barn fire along side his mother because you don’t see him escaping it, just him running and then falling to his knees when the barn is completely on fire. His mother and Lukas greet him because he is dead too. She tells him he’s done nothing wrong, just like Lukas did earlier in the movie to give Elias’ spirit peace and because she is now gone too, her behaviour is no longer cold and swayed by grief and anger, but only love and understanding that nothing was ever Elias’ fault.

  6. Either I was half asleep, or it made me half asleep, so I heard more than I saw until the end. Now that I read the explanation, I would have been as confused watching it or hearing it. I did think the kid’s name was Elliot at first though. I’m going to breeze through it again, because after starting it again, I see the perspective I wish I had known before. It does explain why only one model jet and that she was only talking to one boy. It shows her holding back her emotions also, but I shouldn’t have to watch a movie twice to see these things; it just can’t be worth 3 hours to understand it. I’m just going through life not knowing if the mother was real, because I refuse to waste anymore time trying to figure it out. A film should be good, fascinating, interesting, mysterious, but you must give closure to the audience (says James Cameron), and I didn’t get that.

  7. Everyone keeps going back to the skin peeling bit, actually, I think the ending is thus……Elias also dies in the barn fire, because you don’t see him escaping it or even thinking of escaping as it starts to burn, just him running when the barn is well alight and collapsing in on itself, that would take a good 10/15 minutes or so to get to that stage, his mum and Lukos come to him because he has died too, and she says he’s done nothing wrong to give him peace.

  8. The mothers eyes were naturally blue but she had green contacts that she wore sometimes. The mother was probably talking to the father in the beginning when she said she couldn’t pretend anymore or be in that house. She was saying she couldn’t pretend that Lukas was still alive just for Elias sake. The scene where she was peeling off her skin could have been a premonition on Elias part since clearly he sees dead people and can’t process grief. The part that annoyed me is that the father should have been there when she told him about his brother. Maybe it wouldn’t have ended the way it did for her. Also some more background about what exactly happened after his brothers death. Like did he not go to counseling or anything? It was small plot holes but overall I liked the twist and thought it was a pretty good movie.

  9. Why were the boys not allowed to call thier Father? Also, why did the Mother become so upset that the boys had a cell phone and put it in the garbage disposal and chopped it up, then gave it back to them. Telling the boy’s they were liars?!!

  10. I cannot believe the amount of ppl that are confused lol. No plot holes for Christ sake @Elizabeth, the peeling of the toe and the hand on the glass scenes are both Elias’ dreams. Mom is wearing a mask bc of surgery. She rips the picture bc it has Lukas’ name on it, as if he signed it himself, obviously disturbing for the grieving mother.

  11. Ellias is dreaming about his mother peeling off her skin
    The mum is alive until the end when she dies in the barn fire.
    She is not s figment of Elias”s imagination until after the fire.
    Ellia’s then sees both the dead mum and brother at the end.

  12. The entire movie is Elias’ mind trying to reconcile the loss of both his mother and brother, both accidents. When he awakens from the two dreams of the “mother’s” skin peeling off and a charred body being exposed, he hasn’t even been to the barn yet. Also the barn is always lit up with the door wide open at night when he looks at it. In reality, that was locked for hood after the accidents. The brother, Lukas and his mother probably both died one after the other. He was never taken to his mother’s home because he’s probably locked up in a padded cell. His father never dropped him off at the house. The entire movie is inside the mind of a guilt ridden child.

  13. That peeling black skin was Elias dream later to be happened. The blackened skin was a result of her being burned at the barn. That dream of him was a fantasy where he thought her mother was a shape-shifter or something. But then he later find out that it was the result of her being burned.

  14. I can never get the time back that I spent watching this nonsensical movie, so I’m not wating anymore trying to figure out what the hell was happening!!

  15. As I recall, it was the mother having a dream. As such, I don’t think it was Elias’s dream but please correct me if you discover another answer.

  16. I am confused about one thing tho, in the movie there is a scene where the mother rips of her skin? was that Elias dreaming or what, i’m confused.

  17. it’s one of those farfetched plots like ‘solace’ . if not for casting great actors pulling off suspension of disbelief, the movies would have lost viewers early on.

  18. This is 100% a rip-off of The Other. The main difference is that The Other was scary and very well-made.

  19. OK so he killed his brother and his mother?? This has got to be the worst put together movie I have ever seen. I am fine with not a lot of back story, that’s what makes it fun to try and figure things out, but when you have absolutely NOTHING to go on, that is beyond a poor story, plot, script and ending. Sorry. not sorry.

  20. Hi, thanks for getting in touch. As I mentioned in the article, the mother was likely cold towards her son because of her own grief. Admittedly, the movie doesn’t really explain this very well which is why I couldn’t comment on it further. The movie is a bit of a frustrating watch for anybody looking for a detailed explanation as it’s rather abstract and vague.

  21. Not well-analyzed really. Why was the mom conveniently super cold and mean to the one real boy or was the entire movie just the child’s imagination (but with police showing up?) It makes no sense and you fail to deal with the idiocy of this plot.

  22. Ellen Butler. The explanation is that it’s a dumb movie. The skin peeling scene was a dream the kid was having and it was long before the fire that killed the mother.

  23. It would make more sense to me if we were dealing with Elias AFTER the barn fire. That would explain his dreams about Mommy with blackened skin. Maybe what we are seeing is Elias’ fantasy which actually begins after the fire. He “rewound” once to deal with Lukas’ death then “rewound” again to deal with Mommy’s death.

  24. There is a brilliant 1972 film called The Other which was probably the “inspiration” for the Austrian version. Forget this garbage and watch that one for some genuine and original thrills.

  25. One mistake in the explanation- they remember the mother as having green eyes not blue as stated, and the contact lenses they find in her bag are green

  26. The mother peeling off her skin was only a nightmare dream sequence that Elias was having. It never actually “happened” in the movie.

  27. Yes, like others, that plot hole really bugs me. If Elias was alone in the house and Mother and brother were both fantasies, then maybe she was revealing her burned body… but that doesn’t make sense as she was later seen talking with the police. Another hole that bugged me, who was she talking to on the phone saying she was tired of pretending and couldn’t stand another minute in the house? What was that?

  28. I had to goggle the plot after watching it. Geez I hate to have to find out the ending on google! Strange movie. The mother peeling off her skin had nothing to do with anything. If it did it went over my head

  29. This movie kept me guessing, Everytime I thought I figured it out, it twisted, I do hate how it ended , I think Elias needs some serious mental health help. I liked the movie though.

  30. Ellen, this is when it turned me off ! Have u ever seen the movie Naomi wrote and directed? I think it is “Wicked Games.” Recommend. Let me knowl

  31. @Ellen Butler, that confused me too until i rewatch the movie. I later came to realize that it was actually Elias dreaming.

  32. I believe it is still a dream and the guilt of killing her in a fire and the fact he believes in his head she is not his mom. This is how he in his head explains that she is not his mother.

  33. The thing I am still confused about is the scene where the mother is filing her toenails and a piece of skin falls back. She then proceeds to pull off her skin revealing what looked like a burned body. And the end of the movie she does burn burn the barn. Explanation?

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