The Eyes Of My Mother 15A
In a cinema near you:
"Why would I kill you? You’re my only friend," says eight-year-old Francisca (Olivia Bond) to the chained up naked man in her Midwestern barn. The man (a wonderfully creepy Will Brill) turned up at Francisca's house asking to use the bathroom and despite her mother's (Agostini) reluctance she lets him in. Bad mistake. Dad (Nazak) comes home to find the man doing unspeakable things to mum in the bathroom and takes him prisoner. But dad is old and sick and the man's 'wellbeing' is left to Francisca (later played by Magalhaes), who just wants company. And any kind of company will do…
Apologies for the cryptic synopsis but the narrative is best left to the audience to discover for themselves. And I'll call it now: The Eyes Of My Mother is a modern classic horror. Playing almost like a serial killer origins story – what if Ed Gein was inspired by his mother who was even worse? – this debut from writer-director Nicolas Pesce is wholly unpredictable and difficult to nail down. Told from the viewpoint of a serial killer, and one that is deeply psychologically troubled, keeps one on edge; the brilliant Maghalhes, with her innocent eyes and butter-wouldn't-melt demeanour is a fascinating watch.
With one foot firmly in European arthouse, this exceptional horror emphasises despair more than any other in recent memory. Despondency and melancholy hangs over everything – the gloomy black and white visuals certainly help with the mood - and the sorry lot of those Francisca lures back to her lonely and isolated farmhouse is certainly felt. Pesce second guesses the viewer at every turn: It initially looks like it was set in the 50s or 60s but in a rare trip off the farm to a bar suggests a much later era, while the story can suddenly jump forward moments or hours or years, leaving it to the audience fill in the blanks and make their own assumptions on what has happened in the interim. Sometimes it's deliberately obvious what’s gone down – Francisca mopping up a pool of blood the morning after pleading with a friend not to leave her – and at other times less so. Pesce isn't shy about offering up some truly horrific images either.
But this unpredictability and tendency to leave it up to the viewer's imagination can let the side down too. The Eyes Of My Mother is short. Too short. At seventy-six minutes it feels like it's missing a third act - it feels chopped, unfinished. But then perhaps Pesce has done his job in delivering a haunting horror that makes you wish for more.
Review by Gavin Burke | 14:45 | Monday 20th March 2017 | Movie Review