A look into the world of unimaginable terror where isolation is the real threat.
The eyes of the Mother is a debut film from director Nicolas Pesce and stars Kika Magalhaes (‘Welcome Home’), Will Brill (‘Not Fade Away’) and Olivia Bond (‘Roger Dodger’). Horror films sometimes force the scares on the audience by setting themselves in desolate or run down houses with a murderous family or messed up psychopath. The Eyes of The Mother basically gives us a family home in a remote town, in which we follow main character Francisca, a young girl living in a farmhouse with her parents. We soon discover that Francisca’s mother is a skilled surgeon and most days she is teaching her daughter the skills necessary to become a surgeon herself. In this case we have a cow’s head on the kitchen table and we see its eye being taken out in a very meticulous fashion. Truly horrifying in its own right and I will never look at a cow the same again. One day whilst her father is out a drifter comes to the house wanting to use the bathroom. The family reluctantly lets him in and within the first 10 minutes of the film we get an unforgettably tense and creepy stand off in which Francisca’s mother ends up getting killed. The real kicker in the way this film plays it’s horror sequences is in the edits. well timed cut-away’s and a disturbingly beautiful soundtrack in which the real horror is all in your head and even-though the murders in the film are brutal they are all subjective and you basically fill in the blanks.
After the initial tragedy, the father returns home, knocks out the assailant and chains him up in the family barn, Francisca often visits the barn to talk to the killer asking him why he did it. he tell her because “It feels amazing”. Francisca then proceeds to remove the eyes and the tongue of the man. Just like her mother had showed her on the cow head. You feel a huge shift in her character, as if this has been in her all along and this sequence of events triggered a deep, primal urge. Again, none of the surgery is shown in graphic detail, instead we see the aftermath of her actions. The man struggling to talk and wearing a bloody rag around his eyes. Francisca then ends up up keeping the man as some sort of pet/friend in which shes visits every day and provides food and water for. Which sort of feels like a fate worse than death, which in itself is a terrifying prospect. Once again Nicolas Pesce has created an unsettling scene in the minds of the audience without showing a single thing. It’s the thought of a child performing this kind of act and showing no emotion whilst doing it. Obviously each person could interpret this another way, that’s what is so great about the style of editing and imagery used. This whole barn scene is something that really affected me and stuck with me long after the film was done and it has top be the least graphic scene I’ve ever watched in a horror film. It’s a definite head scratcher.
The movie jumps to Francisca as an adult just shortly after learning her father has passed away, leaving Francisca to fend for herself. This is the first time we see her character show some emotion, after being alone for so long Soon Francisca tries to find love by venturing outside of her little bubble and expanding into the real world, which leads her into a string of murders and her impending demise.
Main Actor Kika Magalhaes does a great job as Francisca, being completely awkward and terrifying. From the start of the film you can’t help but feel sorry for her. This is a woman who lost both her parents at a relatively young age. We get to see a shocking transformation within her when she lets her trauma turn her into a monster, killing those who don’t want to be with her. Francisca’s mind can think of many things worse than death for her victims.
The Eyes of My Mother is lovely to look at and is extremely well shot. The whole film is black and white and at first you may think Nicolas Pesce is just trying to being a bit artsy, but it definitely adds an extra element to the story. To me it felt like it added to Francisca’s emotional state through her whole life, as if there has never been any grey area in her mind. The cinematography is breathtaking and I’m sure colour would have taken advantage of the scenes that were shot. As I’ve said previously the film is short on gore and body horror, as a majority of violence and shot off-screen and is implied or shown after the event have taken place. You can look at this as a disappointment or clever use of the audience to imagine the horror.
All in all The Eyes of My Mother is a slow burn which picks up about 40 minutes in of it’s 76 minute run time. It’s a spine tingling story of isolation and tragedy manifesting itself in a deadly way. Days and weeks after viewing the film it still stuck with me, a very odd feeling which I don’t really get from this type of genre, this speaks volumes to the films ability to totally freak you out. Some parts horror and some parts drama, if you’re up for a thought provoking and disturbing film then I can thoroughly recommend you give The Eyes of My Mother a watch. Get Involved.