Review: The Eyes of My Mother

Last Updated on July 31, 2021

PLOT: A young girl creates an unusual freindship after her mother is viciously murdered. As she grows older, she finds that the attack has brought her down a dark and demented journey of heartbreak and horror.

REVIEW: Most horror fans love a good and gory scary movie. It’s always fun to see just how creative the filmmakers can get when slashing victims left and right. However, it is even more satisfying when a director can create a fright flick that can get under your skin with nary a dismemberment in sight – although this feature is not without a little bit of that. While THE EYES OF MY MOTHER may offer a few slightly brutal images, this is not about the blood and guts, this is far more emothionally horrific than that. Shot in monochrome, this dark story of a lonely woman who hides a scary secret is at times brilliant – occasionally a bit convoluted – and more than a little disturbed. Once again, we have a fascinating slow burn of a thriller continuing to make 2016 one of the best years of genre that we’ve seen.

As a little girl, Francisca (Olivia Bond plays her as a child) was always obsessed with what goes on inside the human body. Much of that had been passed down from her mother who was an eye doctor. When a stranger named Charlie (Will Brill) shows up at their doorstep, something horrible happens to the young girl’s mother. This vicious assault changes Francisca in the darkest of ways. As an adult, Francisca (Kika Magalhaes) is desperate to not be alone. She struggles with her aging father and hidden fantasies that have become a part of her, something that leads her on a path of murderous consequences.

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At the heart of THE EYES OF MY MOTHER is the film’s leading lady. Kika Magalhaes is exceptional as Francisca. As the movie progresses, you become frightfully aware of what she is capable of. The actress brings a quiet and sometimes sensitive portrayal of a woman desperate for the company of others. Even if her idea of companionship is more than a little troubled. It’s a bit tricky as it is very difficult to sympathize considering her actions – even as a child she clearly has psychotic tendencies. Thankfully the actress brings a haunting depth to the role. She is able to maneuver through her mother’s tragic death to her own sinister needs and desires. It’s a powerful performance.

This stylish film is written and directed by Nicolas Pesce. In a fine directorial debut, the first time filmmaker explores decidedly complex material. He slowly maneuvers through Francisca’s life as a child up until her as an adult. The black and white imagery is possibly more effective than it would have been in color. You could easily make comparisons to PSYCHO as the film takes place in her family home and a garage on the premises. It also places the main focus on a tortured individual. It is a small and claustrophobic fear that builds as Francisca’s loneliness grows to deadly proportions. For a first film, it is a damn impressive debut.

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Any qualms? Well, yes. As much as I respect THE EYES OF MY MOTHER, it is not a pleasant watch in any way shape or form. This is the type of film you can take in once but I can’t imagine many repeated viewings. It is a grim story that may not be for everybody. It’s not that all horror movies have to be fun popcorn flicks, but in some ways this is more in line with something like IRREVERSIBLE, but without the extreme graphic images. In fact, that’s the thing that is most shocking; just how little it shows but still manages to leave a bit of an emotional scar on the viewer. In fact, sometimes watching this, especially the third act, is a near painful experience due to the nature of what she is. And frankly, the story is more than a little implausible – which is only noticeable because the film is decidedly grounded in reality.

THE EYES OF MY MOTHER is a film that I respect more than enjoy. As effective as it may be, at times the story itself is a tad convoluted to a fault. And even more than that, you won’t likely want to watch more than once. Still, Kika Magalhaes is stunning and since so much of the film relies on her performance, it is all the better for it. With only one film on his resume, we may have something truly special with Nicolas Pesce. Without the benefit or overabundance of gore, the filmmaker has crafted one of the most disturbingly frightening horror films of the year – even if it can be quite unpleasant.

Review: The Eyes of My Mother



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JimmyO is one of’s longest-tenured writers, with him reviewing movies and interviewing celebrities since 2007 as the site’s Los Angeles correspondent.