Nicolas Pesce’s THE EYES OF MY MOTHER follows Francisca (Kika Magalhaes), a young girl, and then a young woman who witnesses her mother’s death at the hands of a sociopathic stranger, yet deals with that trauma in a deeply unusual way, due to the unemotional upbringing by that very same mother when it comes to the concepts of death and the intricacies of the body. That initial tragedy shapes and galvanizes the young woman to be as she builds a life, and takes others’ lives – first with her father, and then by herself, isolated out in the country. Taught by her mother – a surgeon, how the body works, she is better equipped with removing body parts and sewing them back up than she is with loneliness and dealing with emotions.
THE EYES OF MY MOTHER falls distinctly in the category of art-horror. Filmed in black and white, it emphasizes mood, nuance, and character study, over purely visceral shock and gore. It is a film that places a high premium on the feelings of dread for the victims and empathy for its murderous protagonist over the delight of jump scares.
Since, by design, the audience spends a lot of time with the character of Francisca, we are made complicit in her actions toward the unfortunate people that come into her isolated universe. The film emphasizes “less is more” both in terms of gore and information, so we are left to our imaginations to determine what exactly just happened or what has transpired during long stretches of time in between the films “chapters.” For the viewer that wants or needs everything explained to them, it might be maddening, but for the person willing to “be a guest” in Francisca’s country house and her world, she, and the film could be placed alongside Lucky McKee’s wonderful indie horror classic, MAY, as a thoroughly beautiful creeper, that will charm as it – and she – sends chills up your spine.