In a year of comic book movies galore and action packed blockbusters here, there and everywhere, it was very easy for smaller films to get lost in the shuffle, even to myself. I heard about #TheEyesofMyMother a good few months after it's release but I'm very glad that it was brought to my attention and not too late.
Making it's debut at the 2016 #Sundance Film Festival, The Eyes of My Mother is a low-budget #horror movie that is like Hitchcock crossed with David Lynch. Though it is not a 'horror' in the conventional sense; don't expect jump scares or people with masks slaughtering teenagers, though that is not to say that you should watch this with your dinner! If you thought The Witch was artsy, mix it with the stylistically similar A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night, get a fresh pot of paint and prepare to splatter it everywhere! (different type of art but you get the idea!)
"I want to create a very unique and potentially very odd cinema experience for people that I think they'll remember"
Debuting director, Nicolas Pesce
The plot of the film is straight forward. The mother of our protagonist (at this point portrayed by Olivia Boand and later Kika Magalhaes as an adult) is murdered when she is just a girl by a door-to-door salesman named Charlie (Will Brill) who is like a pantomime psycho and seriously gives you the willies. You just know from the get-go that something isn't right with this guy and so does Francisca's mother. Father returns home to find his daughter sitting quietly and helpless in the kitchen as Charlie is with his wife in the bathroom and later finds himself being held captive in the family barn. "You're going to kill me, aren't you?" Charlie asks Francisca, as she tends to his wounds. "Why would I kill you?," she replies. "You're my only friend."
I'm not sure I want to give away anymore than that. I went into this film almost completely blind and I feel it's better that way. Just know this, the film is quite short in length at just 77 minutes but packs one of the most genuinely horrifying experiences I've ever seen on screen.
The film is short in high contrast and crystal-clear black and white with an unparalleled and nostalgic atmosphere in the vein of the chill-fests of yesteryear. It keeps you squirming in your seat as the dread builds and you watch Francisca inflict terror as a matter-of-fact monster.
At it's core, as stated by it's director:
"It's a story about a girl who's lonely and just trying to stop it."
Francisca is essentially a normal person who experienced a tragedy when she was young causing her to grow up in an isolated and hostile environment. She craves love and attention like we all do, but her experiences make her express it in a most unorthodox way- taking what her mother told her, "loneliness can do strange things to the mind," to a whole new level. You find yourself constantly feeling sorry for this tragically warped person while being utterly terrified of her and for anybody that enters her orbit.
Kika Magalhes, a former dancer, uses very vivid expression in her eyes and limbs to bring to life this haunted and tortured soul. Perhaps the most disturbing part of this is that emotionless attitude that is carried throughout- her face almost completely blank. Magalhaes said in an interview that a big influence on her performance was the character of Asami in the 1999 Japanese horror classic Audition.
If you're a horror fan and aren't yet excited to check this film out, then you better check your pulse.
Have you seen The Eyes of My Mother? What did you think?