July 14, 2024

Film Review: “Eyes of My Mother”

Francisca, who was raised on a secluded farmhouse, is left with a distorted view of death after a series of tragic events in her youth. We see her life unfold as she copes with the world consumed by grief,  and we watch as the lines between life and death, and what is right and wrong,  become less and less clear for her. Eyes of My Mother is a grisly horror film that dares the audience to sympathize with a serial killer.

Kika Magalhaes gives a strong performance as Francisca, whose inner turmoil is just barely noticeable under her melancholy demeanor. We feel for her, not just because we have seen what shaped her as a character, but because Magalhaes’ subtle performance invites empathy from the audience. While first time director Nicolas Pesce’s abilities as a filmmaker were praised at Sundance this year, the graphic and disturbing nature of the film was polarizing, and understandably so. At times, Eyes of My Mother is a difficult film to watch. It’s not overtly graphic, mind you, but rather bubbling with disturbing intent. The basis for all good horror is anticipation, which Pesce provides in spades.

The film is masterfully shot in black and white, showcasing  Zach Kuperstein’s skill as a cinematographer. This was Kuperstein’s first feature as a cinematographer, after an array of short films, and there is no doubt he will be sought after from here on in. Each frame of the film was a framable piece of art. What impressed me most about the film was its ability to provide a true horror element without the recent tropes we’ve become accustomed to (the lack of jump scares was particularly refreshing). Instead we’re treated to a slowly burning horror story that frightens our emotions rather than our senses.

If I have one criticism, it’s that the ending of the film, while not entirely predictable, is inevitable, leaving the conclusion to be a bit anticlimactic.  While many films of the genre tend to drag the ending out to a comically long degree, Eyes of My Mother feels a bit rushed. The film is broken up into three parts, with the third feeling the shortest, and unfortunately, the least satisfyingThe film’s short running time of 76 minutes definately would have allowed Pesce to build it up the third act a bit more.

The ending aside, Eyes of My Mother is a well crafted, albeit slightly disturbing, horror film that effectively delves into the psyche of a killer, without falling into the cliches of modern  horror cinema.

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