Review: The Eyes of My Mother (2016)

Shot in black and white and shrouded with simplistic terror, The Eyes of My Mother is the directorial debut of Nicolas Pesce and also one of the most haunting horror tales of 2016.

The general synopsis is young Francisca experiences severe trauma after her mother’s death. Throughout her childhood and her adult life, she carries with her the things her mother taught her, the things she’s seen, and an undying loneliness that controls her every action.

It’s easy for the above description to sound like a Hallmark channel dud but god damn, is it the farthest thing from it. It reminded me of The Ring and the infamous video tape; weird, unsettling imagery, except much longer. It wasn’t so weird as to confuse you; it was weird in a way that made you feel like you weren’t supposed to be witnessing it. It made you feel uncomfortable. Within the first 5 minutes, my stomach dropped and my breathing increased. That’s an eerily good experience for a horror fan, one that is hard to come by nowadays. The opening is just so horrifying, from both Will Brill’s performance and the actions that unfold.

To be blunt, there’s a lot of fucked up shit in The Eyes of My Mother. You name it, it’s probably got it. There’s some ungodly bullshit that goes down.  It’s odd though because I’m tempted to say it was classy fucked up. Like, it was okay to go this far because of the way you displayed it to the audience. It wasn’t a grind house, sex pun filled color wheel that tried to shock you. It was a simple story of a very complicated, very damaged woman and the unspeakable things that went on at her lifelong home. And because of that, I felt so much more of an impact.

I felt it was a bit fantastical, or rather a bit unrealistic in certain aspects, especially the environment in which Francisca was raised. Without spoiler spewing, I ask “Why did her father do what he did and why was everyone so fucking chill with it?” That didn’t make sense to me. It was cool and it worked but I didn’t understand the family dynamic nor the severity of influence it had on Francisca. That’s not to say I understood why our main character did what she did, I only ask the prequel of her family, the history of the madness so to speak. I think you might be concerned too upon viewing, as most 10-12 year old girls aren’t quite like her, whether she has a flawed upbringing or genetic shortcomings to thank for that. There are other nitpick points, such as the main character’s source of income, education, and social skills progression but hey, who gives a shit?

The Eyes of My Mother stuck with me after watching and I need that in a movie. It means my mind is still trying to digest, to comprehend what it saw. I think most horror movies should be like that. Unlike other films, the hype was real for this one. It was a subtle, community based hype but nonetheless, I was not disappointed. I want to tell you all what happens because it is so gnarly but you really should just find out for yourself.

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