Aine Geraghty ’19 / Emertainment Monthly Staff Writer
Set in a black and white countryside, The Eyes of My Mother follows Francisca (Kika Magalhaes), a young girl who comes into her adulthood after she loses her mother (Diane Agostini), a former eye surgeon in Portugal, to a horrible tragedy. This loss brings her loneliness that drives her to do crazy things to find an outlet for her affection. This results in a dark and disturbing journey through the eyes of a woman who seeks companionship in the worst ways imaginable.
Imagine that The Texas Chainsaw Massacre, Psycho, The Last House on the Left, and The Strangers all came together to create a new horror film. That is pretty much what you are getting with this movie, and, for fans of the horror genre, it is wonderful. Taking inspiration from past icons of horror has been popular in recent years, with such films as It Follows, and even TV shows like Stranger Things. This can easily allow a film to be lazy and simply draw upon viewers’ nostalgia of past scares for success, but The Eyes Of My Mother has an original spark to it that is both commendable and unsettling.
The focus on Francisca’s inability to truly connect with anyone is what makes her character an interesting new addition to the horror world. Her father (Paul Nazak) is practically emotionally vacant for his entire stay in the film, especially after the passing of his wife, which really begins to isolate her from an early age.
There is a scene following his discovery of Charlie (Will Brill), who had killed his wife in their bathtub, that he makes Francisca scrub up her mother’s blood from the floor while he watches TV with a smoke and a drink. This is where a lot of the horror comes to play in the film, not through gore—although there is a good amount of that as well—but through the emotionally and psychologically disturbing performances of the cast, who nail them consistently.
From that point on, the film does a phenomenal job of allowing you to sympathize with Francisca’s loneliness while simultaneously fearing the terrifying things that loneliness allows her to do. For example, she “befriends” her mother’s murderer, who her father has chained up in the shed, possibly because he spared her life and is the only individual giving her any attention. But, she also cuts out his eyes and vocal cords, making him resemble the cattle her mother used to operate on. It’s disturbing and this is only one of the myriad of other sad yet scary actions she takes in order to once again have a human connection like she had with her mother. Collectively, all of the choices she makes creates one hell of a spine-chilling movie.
The Eyes of My Mother is a fantastic new addition to the horror universe that not only frightens you with its perturbed view of loneliness, but also with its homage to past horror stories as well. However, while this film is beautifully made, it may not be for everyone. Nowadays, the general public seeks out horror such as Insidious or Paranormal Activity that focus on evil supernatural forces and have guaranteed jump scares to make you scream. The Eyes of My Mother instead takes you down the path of psychological scares that are driven by the uncomfortable places human emotions—or, rather, a lack of them—can bring you. Although the film may not be for everyone, it is certainly one dedicated horror fans will be able to appreciate.
Overall Grade: B+
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