The Eyes of My Mother
Starring Kika Magalhaes, Diana Agostini, Will Brill, Paul Nazak, Flora Diaz
I’ve started calling horror movies that are under 90 minutes and have only the basic of concepts, pocket films. The best thing about The Eyes of My Mother, and others like it, is they don’t waste too much of your time. Nicolas Pesce is your typical first-time filmmaker, cutting his teeth on the go-to genre. Writer, producer, and director, he teases the audience with dark and disturbing subject matter, never showing you anything very scary or horrific. His decision to present The Eyes of My Mother in black and white only further dilates the impact of this film. Another huge stumbling block, Kika Magalhaes who has the most screen time, seems painfully aware of the camera for the entire movie.
Even at a young age, Francisca (Olivia Bond) was at her mother’s side while she cut off cow heads and experimented with their eyes. Mother (Agostini) is a retired surgeon, and brutally killed when a strange man enters their house. This sets in motion a peculiar reaction from Francisca’s father (Nazak) who simply buries his wife behind the barn, then continues watching television. The intruder however survives, and becomes Francisca’s only friend, chained and bound in the barn for her amusement. The isolated family live far off the beaten path, for years Francisca (Magalhaes) cares for her father until his death and the death of her prisoner, she decides, she needs new friends, and new victims.
The black and white presentation not only reduces the effect of blood but ends up being more of a failed attempt at higher art.
“Why would I kill you? You are my only friend,” Francisca explains to one of her victims. The child version of our main character is far more interesting and disturbing, than when she becomes an adult. Of course, that plays into the current horror movie stereotype of creepy children. Magalhaes performance as adult Francisca is quite a jolt out of the story, she speaks and responds to situations like a bad stage play. The short running film is split into three chapters, Mother, Father and Family, each more disturbing than the previous. Pesce wants to creep the viewer out by leaving the gore to our imagination, but his sound effects and tease isn’t strong enough to conjure up much feelings either way.
The Eyes of My Mother feels like a short story/film that was inappropriately stretched into a feature. It lacks much of the contents that make a horror film thrilling for genre fans. The black and white presentation not only reduces the effect of blood but ends up being more of a failed attempt at higher art. The film is at its most fascinating point in the early scenes, with presumably distorted face makeup on actress Agostini, who delivers the only real noteworthy acting in the entire movie. The Eyes of My Mother isn’t the worst horror film of the year, but it’s close.
A failed attempt at taking away crucial elements in the horror genre to see if it still works.