Director – Nicolas Pesce
Cast – Kika Magalhães, Diana Agostini, Olivia Bond, Will Brill, Joey Curtis-Green, Flora Diaz, Paul Nazak, Clara Wong
Release Year – 2916
Reviewed by John of the Dead
This effort made waves last year after debuting at the 2016 Sundance Film Festival and then finding itself on numerous top 10 horror lists. It was because of these top 10 lists that I decided to give this 76 minute black and white horror/drama a shot. After viewing this I can see why many said this effort polarizes the audience, as its level of violence pushes boundaries typically unseen in such monochrome horror/dramas. Sounds like a good thing, right? The violence is solid, and I can see why some would be troubled by it. For me, the violence doesn’t do enough to make up for how thin the experience is. It is a good film, but not one I would recommend to all, and one I probably will not watch again.
Growing up with a former surgeon for a mother, Francisca was given an immersive perception of human anatomy. This left her undaunted with death. When the killing of her mother shatters her tranquil countryside life, she begins a dark descent spanning two decades and awakening sinister interests.
The story is told in three acts, with the first giving us insight into the events that lead to Francisca committing some heinous acts. Her mother, while loving, doesn’t give her the same upbringing that most of us received. While explaining the human eye to Francisca, her mother uses the head of a butchered cow, seated comfortably on the kitchen table, to demonstrate dissection of the eye. This may not seem like too crazy of a thing, but when you combine this with her solitary upbringing it becomes obvious (later on) that she does not know how to deal with others socially. Her mother’s death doesn’t seem to phase her much, but it is used in the story as the final step to send her over the edge when her killer tells Francisca he did it because of the feeling it gave him. I wish there would have been more substance to what caused this severed mental delusion that she can kill at will and display zero empathy towards others, but at 76 minutes the flick doesn’t deliver in that regard. The final two acts will show us Francisca killing four people, and she does so with grace. The latter kill we be hard to watch as it is the most taboo, although it is the full-frontal direction that makes it hit so hard.
Director Nicolas Pesce makes the most of the little story he wrote for himself. As mentioned, the horror hits hard and will leave its lasting effect on you well after the end credits roll. The acting performance from Kika Magalhaes is solid, and I was impressed with her mannerisms and the lack of empathy she displayed. Her kills were delivered so beautifully. These scenes are haunting, and show that Pesce has a knack for unsettling the viewer. You won’t see too much as far as gore, but you will see the effects of dismemberment. With kills executed in this fashion you won’t feel the need for gore. This is a visual treat, with amazing cinematography shown in black and white fashion. The atmosphere is OK and comes with a great musical score. I did not find the home to be particularly haunting, but the kills delivered inside of it were haunting enough.
Overall, The Eyes of My Mother delivers the goods but it definitely isn’t for everyone. Don’t let the black and white scheme fool you. The same goes for the drama. Without the horror, this would be a terrible and utterly boring experience.