While slow burn horror films have often been the red-headed step child to the slasher films we grew up with in the 80’s they still pack a punch and in many ways more effectively. In a society where we are always waiting for the next thing to grab our attention it can be hard to sell a film like this to audiences. But if you are willing to give a film like this a chance you can find some hidden gems. In recent years slow burners like House of the Devil and The Strangers have become instant classics.
The Eyes of My Mother is a story about a young, lonely woman (Francisca) that is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life. It basically takes place in one location for the entirety of the film that features a small cast. But more so than any cast member, it’s the isolation the movie captures that should almost be considered for best supporting actor / actress role. The lack of soundtrack. The stillness. The authenticity of the acting. Each building on top of one another to create something special with the simplicity of the storytelling that unfolds in front of you is what makes The Eyes of My Mother one of the best films of 2016. The entire film feels like you are a fly on the wall in the room watching Francisca (Kika Magalhaes) grow up before your eyes in a seemingly normal rural family. But there are hints early on that suggest the family may be a little tilted.
During scenes when someone is being held captive in the most inhumane way nothing ever seems chaotic. Even in these dark and bleak moments it never feels out of control. Each action is calculated and in some cases done with love. The calmness adds to the creepy factor that so many modern horror films struggle to find. It’s an unnerving cult classic for the ages that has you rooting for the victim and the villain as you try to discover the delicate balance between the two.
Lost in this review is that The Eyes of My Mother is Nicolas Pesce’s first feature film in the directors chair. If this is a sign of what Pesce can accomplish on a limited budget and space then his future in this genre is going to be very bright amid a dark and bleak film.