Synopsis: A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life.
Release Date: December 2, 2016 MPAA Rating: PG-13
Genre(s): Drama, Horror
Every once in a while, a movie comes along that should be gone into blind, with absolutely no knowledge of the story. The Eyes of My Mother is one of these movies. It’s full of shock and awe, and for this reason, it is best experienced with fresh eyes. Those who need a loose plot synopsis (and I mean very loose), the next paragraph is for you. For those who’d like to keep the mystery alive, skip down to the third paragraph.
The Eyes of My Mother is about a girl named Francesca (Kika Magalhaes from City of Gold) who not only witnessed the murder of her mother (The Eyes of Van Gogh‘s Diana Agostini) when she was a little girl, but also witnessed her father (Paul Nazak in his first screen appearance) catching the killer (Will Brill from Not Fade Away and Beside Still Waters) and locking him up in the family barn, starving and torturing him for revenge over the next several years. As Francesca grows up with her mother’s killer stashed away in her backyard, she develops a strange fascination with death, love, and family.
The first feature film from writer/director Nicolas Pesce, The Eyes of My Mother is a deeply haunting film. It contains plenty of cringe-worthy imagery, all presented in a beautiful way that makes it that much more disturbing. The term torture porn comes to mind, but it’s not really that type of a movie. It’s more like a cross between Lucky McKee’s The Woman and Frank Henenlotter’s Frankenhooker, with just a tad of Psycho tossed in to keep it grounded.
In the end, The Eyes of My Mother seeps into the viewer’s subconscious and gets stuck there. As one might expect from a genre-bending art-horror film, there’s plenty of symbolism, analogy, and metaphor in the movie, and the interpretations will be completely dependent upon the viewer. Francesca is a surprisingly relatable character – not the things she does, but the things she feels. The audience winds up facing her desperate loneliness with her and, by extension, faces their own. And the audience feels dirty because of it. Because, for as beautiful of a film as it is, The Eyes of My Mother leaves an ugly taste in the mouth.
Shot by cinematographer Zach Kuperstein (5 Doctors), The Eyes of My Mother is a strikingly gorgeous movie. The first thing that is noticed by the viewer is the obvious fact that the film is shot in black and white. For many horror movies, this is a budgetary choice, but here, it’s purely aesthetic; The Eyes of My Mother would be a totally different film in color, and probably a less effective one at that. But the stylistic decisions in the photography don’t stop there. Every frame of every shot is meticulously crafted – the film gives the impression that there’s a reason for everything that’s shown, and it’s up to the viewer to figure out the rest. Kuperstein and Pesce use long takes frequently combined with wide shots so the audience actually has to search the frame for a while to see what’s happening. Even with the drawn-out pacing, every scene seems to cut just a second early, a device which has an unsettling effect on the viewer. The Eyes of My Mother is one of those perfectly crafted movies in which nothing is left to chance, and the cinematography is a prime example of its painstaking attention to detail.
There are a lot of horror fans who are going complain about the lack of scares in The Eyes of My Mother. In a similar vein as The Witch, The Eyes of My Mother is more of a very tranquil and unsettling type of scary, lulling the audience into a false sense of calm while never letting it truly relax. Those looking for cheap jump scares will be disappointed, but those who like a palpable sense of dread and despair with their horror will love it. The Eyes of My Mother isn’t going to give you nightmares – it IS the nightmare.
Cast and Crew
- Director(s): Nicolas Pesce
- Producer(s): Max BornJacob WassermanSchuyler Weiss
- Screenwriter(s): Nicolas Pesce
- Cast: Kika Magalhaes (Francisca)Diana Agostini (Mother)Paul Nazak (Father) Will Brill (Charlie)Olivia Bond (Young Francisca)Joey Curtis-Green (Antonio)Flora Diaz (Lucy)Clara Wong (Kimiko)
- Editor(s): Nicolas Pesce
- Cinematographer: Zach Kuperstein
- Production Designer(s):
- Costume Designer: Whitney Anne Adams
- Casting Director(s): Stephanie Holbrook
- Music Score: Ariel Loh
- Music Performed By:
- Country Of Origin: USA