Idyllic rural towns are one of the most favorite settings in horror because they’re remote locations. A family can end up buying a farm with a couple of bones buried underneath. How much more sinister can an innocent-looking barn be?
The Eyes of My Mother shows you exactly that, with its matter-of-fact violence and underplayed horror.
In the opening sequence of the film, you have a blindfolded woman in chains walking on a road. Several minutes later a mother is giving anatomy lessons using a cow’s severed head on a dining table. Pretty soon the violence escalates and the screenplay shows you the aftermath instead of the act itself, stoking your own fears and imaginations to fill the gap.
This is captured through long takes and static compositions in black and white cinematography, which makes the proceedings effectively gory without the typical hack and slash sequences. In one scene she’s organizing neatly plastic-wrapped contents of her fridge.
The actresses who play Francisca delivers stellar performances that even though she’s not a sympathetic character, you still want to know more about her.
While these elements turn The Eyes of My Mother into a technically well-crafted movie, it’s evident that its strong visuals are hiding a weak story.
The plot shows us that Francisca was changed by a horrific act of violence but the story gives vague context. The little interactions with her parents – and the influence of their idiosyncrasies – is a probable cause. Or it may have just triggered something dormant.
The rest of the story is absurd. A former surgeon somehow ends up in an isolated farm and a murderer happens to find it. Francisca is inflicted with crippling loneliness even though she can socialize well enough. She’s desperate for companionship but enjoys killing people.
In fairness to the character, the screenplay can’t decide whether this movie should be a psychological horror or an arthouse thriller. The first half makes you contemplate how trauma can turn a child into a murderer, but the screenplay decides to push this inexplicably evil individual with unconvincing motivations.
The result is a pointless series of random violence and grisly deaths that you’re thankful this movie is shot in black and white. In the end, the movie has nowhere to go but wrap things up with contrived karma.
Still, it is a memorable horror movie. Nicolas Pesce is focused on sustaining the tone of a grim story and succeeds. He’s able to turn horrific events into intriguing and nightmare-inducing compositions. And for some horror viewers, that’s all they really need.
The Eyes of My Mother is absurd, illogical, and coasts on its imagery. But it does tell something interesting about adulthood. The unpredictable tragedies of one’s environment, clinical upbringing, and isolation can shape a child into something sinister. And the adult is far too gone to be aware.
The Eyes of My Mother
The Eyes of My Mother is weirdly captivating and mentally scarring at the same time.