Little Francisca shares an isolated farmhouse with her remote father, religious ex-eye surgeon mother and a severed cow’s head.
One unlucky afternoon, her peaceful childhood is shredded by an act of random savagery, leaving her psyche irreparably pigmented by the indelible ink of heartbreak.
As Francisca grows up, she seeks to escape the strangulating clutches of unbearable loneliness. With only twisted moral schematics and a perverted sense of compassion for guidance, a bloody wake of terrible consequences is inevitable.
Music video director Nicolas Pesce’s extraordinary film debut attempts to strip back the fibroid layers of the serial killer and expose the underlying catalysts. Because it is not afraid to humanise, The Eyes of My Mother proves a fascinating leap into the darkened waters of the deranged as we witness how one spectacularly sad derailment can wipe out others travelling on the same track.
Concentrating its narrative fire on the empathy debilitating fall-out of extreme misfortune, rather than the lazy melodrama of inherent evil, this audaciously brave film represents a milestone in the deconstruction of cinematic monstrosities.
The bleak ambience simultaneously ransacks the lockers of both David Lynch(Eraserhead) and William Castle(Strait-Jacket), whilst the clinical black and white photography is an early marker that the movie’s tone is more Hitchcock (Psycho) than Hooper (The Texas Chainsaw Massacre).
Some cynics may declare this palette choice to be a tad opportunistic so hot on the critically anointed horror heels of A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night(2014). However, the film’s umbilical chord can be traced back much further.
The truth is, The Eyes of My Mother draws its cinematic nourishment from the gothic desolation of The Night of the Hunter(1955) and slakes its thirst for nostalgia at the mainspring of The Twilight Zone(1959).
Olivia Bond is fabulous as the young trauma-sponge Francisca, but Kika Magalhães is simply breathtaking as her older, emotionally glacial, incarnation. A great deal of the film’s raw power comes from her channelling of an inner iceberg that could confine any size ship to the seabed.
There are times during this gushing fountain of unease that she projects herself as the highly unlikely offspring of Leatherface and French “New Wave” actress Anna Karina.
We have been blessed with a slew of quality arthouse horror films in 2016 – and this anarchic, monochrome gargoyle is as dangerously edgy as any of them.
[rating=5]| Bradley Hadcroft
Horror, Drama |USA, 2016 |15 | 24th March 2017 (UK)| Park Circus Future Classics | Dir. Nicolas Pescei| Kika Magalhães, Will Brill, Paul Nazak, Olivia Bond