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Marina Antunes [Celluloid 11.30.16] horror



Like any other genre, horror movies comes in all sorts of shapes and sizes but finding a good one is like finding a diamond in the rough – especially considering the number of so-called horror movies released every year. I say so-called because finding a movie that actually manages to scare is a difficult task as most fall into either being populous jump-scare affairs gore fests that don't manage to succeed in actually scaring. The Eyes of My Mother is neither of those things. There are no jump scares and not a lot of gore but it is unnerving and scary in a way most horror movies aren't and what's better – or perhaps worse depending on your take – it lingers.


The feature film debut of Nicolas Pesce, The Eyes of My Mother is a both beautiful and creepy look at one woman's struggle to cope with life on her own. Kika Magalhaes stars as Francisca, a lonely young woman living deep in the countryside. She spends her early years under the care of her mother, a former surgeon who passes on some of her knowledge to Francisca. When tragedy strikes, Francisca finds herself alone with her father while also caring for a man who she treats as more of a pet than a human being.


When her father dies years later, Francisca finds herself in need of companionship and it's at this point that her already twisted lifestyle becomes truly horrific.



Pesce's debut is notable for any number of reasons. There's the beautifully crisp black and white cinematography by Zach Kuperstein, the charismatic performance from Magalhaes whose expressive eyes are windows to a tortured soul and the effective use of Amalia Rodrigues whose soulful voice seems an apt replacement for Francisca's apparent lack of empathy. There are also the much buzzed about graphic scenes of brutality which are handled with such matter-of-factness that one is almost removed from the violence. I say almost because only a psychopath could look at the aftermath of Francisca's handy work and not be horrified in some way.


The Eyes of My Mother is scary in the way that's uncommon with horror movies: quietly. By far the scariest moment is a scene when Francisca's son Antonio wonders into the barn. From the shadow emerges an audible hiss and clanking of chains accompanying a slowly slithering form. The scene crescendos with Ariel Loh's score into a moment of chilling terror - a moment which also happens to mark the beginning of the end for Francisca's way of life.


The graphic violence and purposeful pacing are undoubtedly going to be a challenge for some but fans of horror will undoubtedly find Pesce's debut unique and refreshing.


The Eyes of My Mother opens theatrically and on VOD December 2.



Recommended Release: A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night


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