Directed by: Nicolas Pesce
Starring: Kika Magalhaes, Will Brill, Paul Nazak
Recommended?: Yes (if you have a very strong stomach)
Watched On: Netflix Instant
As visually beautiful as it is thematically horrific, The Eyes of my Mother is a genuinely squirmy affair, even for a desensitized horror buff like myself. It’s well-acted, incredibly well-shot, and benefits from adept, nightmarish sound mixing that brings to mind movies like David Lynch’s Eraserhead, but it is a visceral, sometimes grueling experience that’s notably short on sympathetic characters. The violence isn’t as relentless as a film like Martyrs, but it’s more believable and similarly difficult to watch.
Francesca (Kika Magalhaes) is a depraved female psychopath craving a little bit of tenderness in her lonely, isolated existence. When her surgeon mother (Diana Agostini) is murdered by a serial killer (Will Brill, sinister and just the right amount of over-the-top), her life spins dangerously out of control. As an adult, Francesca is an deceptively delicate loner living alone in the farmhouse she grew up in. She’s got a couple skeletons in her closet, and is willing to go to extreme lengths to not have to be alone.
The whole cast of Eyes of my Mother is good, especially Kika Magalhaes and Will Brill, and I cannot say enough good things about the dreamlike, impressionistic black-and-white cinematography. however, I would be unlikely to watch it a second time, mostly because there’s not a whole lot of rewatch value in the gruesome precedings. I think the filmmaker definitely has talent, he has a singular fucked-up vision that sets him apart in his extreme thematic material from hacks like Tom Six.
I would describe this movie as ‘art horror’, the immaculate care and attention given to the film’s cinematography has more in common with something like Ivan’s Childhood than the majority of horror films. It’s beauty stands in bizarre juxtaposition with the sickening nature of Francesca’s sadistic appetites and Ed Gein-like fascination with decay and death. The only part where Eyes of my Mother veers into ridiculous territory is the third act where the movie brings in the world’s most inattentive mother, who picks up a stark raving lunatic and lets her hold her baby.
I found myself giggling in disbelief at that scene, even though the director obviously intended it to be very disturbing and suspenseful. No mother who loved her child would pick up a hitchhiker who acted like Francesca and allow her to put her hands all over her infant and then pick him up and hold him. It was one of those things that takes you out of the experience of watching a movie because it is so aggressively unbelievable.
The Eyes of My Mother isn’t a film that’s supposed to be taken overly literally, and it’s strong sense of isolation and dreamlike, moody atmosphere is one of the things I really liked about it. It transports you somewhere terrifying, and isn’t that what horror films are supposed to do, engage the dark corners of your imagination? I think this filmmaker has a promising career ahead of him, where he cane (hopefully) continue to disturb the shit out of his viewers.
4 thoughts on “Movie Review: The Eyes of my Mother (2016)”
This is one of my fave horror flicks of recent vintage. It is, as you say, “a visceral, sometimes grueling experience.” The whole deal about the inattentive mother didn’t bother me as much as it did you, but it is clearly just a plot contrivance to get her a baby and a new victim. I thought it worked for that purpose and fit well into the overall context of the film. Great review.
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Yeah, on the other hand I thought the scene with the Asian lesbian chick and her reaction to Francesca’s behavior seemed pretty authentic.