"An original horror-fable, a slasher pic with whisperings of high-art sensibility"

From the outset The Eyes of my Mother is unsettling, as we make out a brittle framed woman staggering along a deserted road, before she collapses in front of an oncoming truck. Although it will be some time before we learn who she is, more than enough action occurs to help capture our interest.

Using meticulous monochrome imagery, the film tells the tale of a young Portuguese-American woman Francisca, who is led into a severely psychotic state - not unlike that of a walking nightmare because of a personal tragedy she bore witness to. The film is sliced into three sections, titled Mother, Father and Family.

As a child, Francisca casually takes in anatomical lessons from her mother, a former eye surgeon, but a psychopath manipulates his way into the farmhouse. In the same detached way Francisca would observe her mother dissecting a cow’s eye, so she observes what the psychopath’s bloody intention is. 

We, the voyeur, raise questions in our minds about the molding of a monster, and the fact that there still remains no concrete answer as to the reasons behind a person becoming a serial murderer or psychopath.

Serial killers needn’t be psychopathic, and not all psychopaths are necessarily serial killers. Psychopaths have many common traits which involve fractious family history, genetics or environmental experiences. However, research shows that there is no one cause for violent behaviour. Serial killers and psychopaths may have brain dysfunctional abnormalities but personal experiences and the environment may also contribute towards them later being molded into the monster they become.

The film’s succession of torture versus trauma perhaps stems from a deeper embodiment inside the protagonist. Lead actress Kika Magalhaes passively transfixes as Francisca whilst director Nicolas Pesce delves into extreme human suffering, although questionably a balance is met when it is interspersed throughout with a psychological grounding. Magalhaes brings colour to her role, as we remain unusually sympathetic towards her, despite the hideous acts she commits, Somehow she has not grown up. 

It's a striking feature debut by Nicolas Pesce, where he displays a confident understanding of horror in its extremist form but much of the violence is implied, through abrupt cuts, either skipping over the bloodshed or offering it up to us in the form of a glimmer. Ugliness entwined with a strange elegance, which could perhaps be comparable to Ingmar Bergman, were he to have made ‘The Texas Chainsaw Massacre.’

Pesce is the latest talent to have emerged from the New York-based Borderline Films, following in the footsteps of Antonio Campos (Afterschool), Sean Durkin (Martha Marcy Marlene), and Josh Mond (James White). All share an admiration for the more highbrow horror of Michael Haneke and Roman Polanski.

An original horror-fable from first time feature film director,  Nicolas Pesce's, The Eyes Of My Mother is a slasher pic with whisperings of high-art sensibility. Beautiful, yet still on a similar vein to Quentin Tarantino.