Exclusive: The Eyes of My Mother clip & interview with star Kika Magalhaes

The Eyes of My Mother clip Kika Magalhaes Nick Pesce

One of the best horror films of the year is finally upon us. THE EYES OF MY MOTHER, the chilling feature debut of Nick Pesce, has been making the festival rounds since February, when it premiered at the Sundance Film Festival. I myself caught it at Fantastic Fest back in September, where it ended up being among the most memorable films I saw there. (Revisit my review HERE.) Now it's ready to be seen by the rest of the world, when it's released on VOD and in limited theaters December 2nd.

To celebrate the film's release, we have an eerie exclusive clip to share with you. But even more exciting, we've got some exclusive words about the film from its star, Kika Magalhães, who plays the tormented - and twisted - protagonist, Francisca. It's nice to find that Kika is a very sweet and normal person in real life, a testament to the incredibly disturbing performance she gives on screen.

"The first time I watched it, I just really focused on myself and was seeing things I did wrong and could be better," Magalhães says about her first experience seeing herself in THE EYES OF MY MOTHER. "I thought I failed. I thought I sucked. I was kind of disappointed, not with the movie, but with myself. But the reactions from people were amazing, I was so surprised. 'You liked my performance?' The second time I watched it, it was just like watching a movie, not only myself. I was able to pay attention to other things in the movie, like the visuals and the other actors. The second time I really, really loved it."

Though she's quite happy with her situation now, things weren't always looking so promising for Magalhaes. Nick Pesce's script came to her at just the right time, as she found herself in a solitary place after moving to America from her native Portugal to pursue an acting career.

"When I first got the script, I was going through some kind of loneliness," Magalhães says, noting she was not having much luck finding work. "I wasn't very happy. I could totally relate to the character, which kind of felt like preparation for the role. I was living in my own shell for a while, and watching all of these crazy horror movies and doing all this research on crazy serial killers. I learned a lot about the Manson case and Ted Bundy, and I was going a little bit crazy myself. I was totally alone and studying all these people." She can laugh about it now.

The character of Francisca is at once sympathetic and horrifying. A product of a murky - but clearly unusual - upbringing, Francisca's parents don't seem to have a firm grasp on how to raise a normal little girl. As is the case with many a psychopath, Francisca's actions as an adult are a direct result of her childhood. But Magalhães isn't about to label Francisca a villain.

"I don't think she's a monster," Magalhães says. "I think she's more of a victim. I think she was shaped by the terrible things that happened to her. She didn't have any friends her own age. Her mother, who was the only person giving her some affection, died when she was really young. And her dad was... maybe I shouldn't say this, but maybe that wasn't her real dad. Her dad never gave her anything, never gave her any love. She was desperate for some affection and some love, and that's why she does the things she does. She doesn't know how to express her love, because love was never given to her. She can't bear to be alone."

About inhabiting the role, Magalhães says, "I don't think I tried to make her horrendous, even though she's committing horrendous acts. My approach to her always came from a loving point of view. Her main goal in life was always to be loved. I don't even think of it as a horror movie, it's just a really sad story."

Sad for everyone involved, to be sure.

As you'll see in the clip below, Francisca's existence is both incredibly melancholy and fairly grotesque. A quiet sequence, it should give those of you who have yet to see the movie a spooky taste of what else is in store. (Note: This is pretty tame by the film's standards.).

After about nine months of doing the festival rounds, Magalhães is happy that THE EYES OF MY MOTHER will finally be available to everyone. "I've been waiting all these months. This is my first movie coming out, so I'm really eager... I'm from Portugal, so all my friends and family back home have been reading everything online and are like, 'We want to see your movie, when is it coming out?!' I have no control over that, but I'm really excited."

That excitement comes with a bit of reasonable apprehension. "I'm also a bit scared, because I know audiences at festivals are a bit different than the general audience. I don't think this is a movie for a general audience. I'm interested to see what the reactions will be now."

Magalhães isn't wrong; THE EYES OF MY MOTHER won't necessarily be given a warm reception from people who like their movies safe and reassuring. But the genre fans - the folks who this film was made for - are going to eat it up.

The Eyes of My Mother clip Kika Magalhaes Nick Pesce

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