Friday, September 1, 2017

Movie Review: "The Eyes of My Mother" (2016)

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Movie"The Eyes of My Mother"
Director: Nicolas Pesce
Year: 2016
Rating: R
Running Time: 1 hour, 16 minutes

After Francisca's father catches a man murdering her mother, he chains the man up in their barn. Francisca begins taking care of him. As the years pass, her isolation in an unhealthy environment leaves her slipping further and further into psychosis.

"The Eyes of My Mother" is film debut of writer/director Nicolas Pesce. It a slow-burning psychological horror with a bit of a twist on the serial killer genre. It is shot in black and white, and though it takes place in America, the story is told in a combination of Portuguese and English. It stars Kika Magalhães as Francisca, a young woman whose mother was murdered by a random stranger when she was very young. Her father, played by Paul Nazak, was able to catch the killer, played by Will Brill, in the act. Her father proceeded to chain up this murdered in their barn. When Francisca was young, her mother, played by Diana Agostini, a former surgeon, taught her a lot about anatomy and the various surgical procedures she would perform. Later in her life, Francisca uses some of this knowledge to perform her own surgeries on her mother's assailant and she starts to spend a lot of time with him as time passes. It only gets worse and far more obsessive for her.

This is a movie mostly about Francisca's slow descent into psychopathic madness. Director Nicolas Pesce relies on a lot of nasty, creepy, unsettling visuals to get this point across. These images, courtesy of Zach Kuperstein's cinematography, are striking while simultaneously setting the eerie mood and building tension. There isn't an overabundance of dialogue, but there aren't a lot of characters for that matter. Because of this, "The Eyes of My Mother" does feel a lot slower paced than we expected. But, the entire thing clocks in at just 76 minutes long, so the lulls are far more tolerable than they would have been in a longer project. This is almost "torture porn"-esque, but is much more crafty in its execution than other similar (think Eli Roth) productions. Some of the "bad stuff" happens off camera, though there are a couple of moments where the audience gets to see exactly what's going on in graphic detail...and it's terrifying. One specific instance involves a cut up Achille's tendon. Trust us, this is enough to make your skin crawl. The film is also set in an isolated location, which is the perfect place for the shady happenings going on here.

With a bare bones cast from a first-time director, "The Eyes of My Mother" is an interesting, moody, tonally good low budget horror-not-conventional-horror that proves you don't need ghost makeup, jump scares, continual slashings, and lots of special effects to make an effective scary movie. Granted, this is not a perfect project, but this is a disturbing tale that leaves a lot to the imagination with much of the gore absent from the screen. This will most definitely make you cringe.

My Rating: 7/10
BigJ's Rating: 7/10
IMDB's Rating: 6.2/10
Rotten Tomatoes Rating: 75%
Do we recommend this movie: Sure, why not?

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