THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (2016)
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This is a really unnerving flick from writer/director Nicolas Pesce. It tells the story of young Francisca (Olivia Boand) who lives isolated on a farm with her father and mother (Paul Nazak and Diana Agostini), her mother being a former surgeon who shares her skills with her daughter, using the animals. When a man (Will Brill) enters their home under the pretense of using their bathroom, he murders her mother practically before Francisca’s eyes. Instead of calling the police, her father imprisons the man in the barn and Francisca uses her surgical knowledge on the demented individual. As Francisca grows to adulthood (Kika Magalhaes), she also grows lonely and seeks company, but the events of her childhood have given her methods of providing companionship for herself that are disturbing to say the least.
Filmed in sumptuous black and white this is an artsy, but atmospheric and really disturbing horror flick from Nicolas Pesce in his feature debut. He conjures some really unsettling imagery and sequences, as we watch the emotionally disturbed girl become a very unhinged and dangerous woman, who likes to keep ‘friends’ in the barn and hacks up anyone who doesn’t want to stay. The film isn’t overly gory and certainly is not torture porn, because it smartly lets us use our own imaginations to picture what the disturbed Francisca is doing. It’s a lot more disturbing when we conjure her actions in our heads. Pesce does still give us some very unsettling things to see, such as the now adult woman cradling her dead father’s body in the bathtub and her eerie behavior around a young woman (Clara Wong) she brings home from a bar. There are numerous cringe worthy scenes here and while we get some decent bloodshed, most of the violence is left up to us to imagine and Pesce gives us plenty of reasons to set our imaginations running. The black and white cinematography by Zach Kuperstein only makes the film even creepier and there is an atmosphere adding score by Ariel Loh.
As for his star, both young Olivia Boand and Kika Magalhaes both do great jobs in bringing the unhinged Francisca to life. Both actresses create a women who thinks what she is doing is right and natural and has no idea that she is actually a very emotionally disturbed person. Kidnapping, torment, murder is just part of her social interact with others. She just wants someone to care about and will go to any length to get it. Will Brill plays Charlie, the man who kills her mother and successfully does the job of being both serial killer and sympathetic victim. Good work. Paul Nazak and Diana Agostini are suitably odd as her parents and Clara Wong is very sympathetic as Kimiko, the ill-fated women Francisca brings home for ‘company’.
Nicolas Pesce’s debut is one of the best and most disturbing horrors of the year. It is loaded with creepy atmosphere and some very disturbing sequences and imagery. It presents a simple story of a young woman who grows up isolated on a farm with a very unsettling slant to social and emotional behavior. The actors all present their characters well and the director feeds us just enough to let our imaginations conjure the worst. A very effective and extremely unsettling film.
3 and 1/2 eyes.
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