M.L. Miller here! As I go into my tenth year of reviewing horror films, I wanted to go back to the beginning and repost some of the films I loved. Moving on to Year Seven of my year-long Retro-Best in Horror I’m recapping the Countdown beginning officially on October 1, 2016 and going through September 30, 2017. I have posted Best of lists in the past, but a lot of those old reviews haven’t seen the light of day since they were first posted many moons ago. Being the OCD person that I am, I have also worked and reworked the list, looking back at my own choices and shifting them around, and even adding a few that I might have missed or looked over from the year in question. So, if you think you know how these lists are going to turn out, you don’t! Don’t forget to like and share my picks with your pals across the web on your own personal social media. Chime in after the review and let me know what you think of the film, how on the nose or mind-numbingly wrong I am, or most importantly, come up with your own darn list…let’s go!
Released on December 2, 2016! Available On Demand, digital download, & DVD here from Magnet Releasing!
THE EYES OF MY MOTHER (2016)
Directed by Nicolas Pesce
Written by Nicolas Pesce
Starring Kika Magalhaes, Diana Agostini, Will Brill, Olivia Bond, Joey Curtis-Green, Flora Diaz, Paul Nazak, Clara Wong
Find out more about this film here and on Facebook here
Filmed in beautiful black and white, THE EYES OF MY MOTHER is an unconventional horror story split into three parts about a misguided woman seeking companionship in ways that are most uncanny. While there are elements of torture porn in this film, as there is a person in chains being broken by mistreatment, the focus is less on the torture and more about the formation of twisted relationships and the uglier side of family and love.
In chapters marked “Mother,” “Father,” and “Family,” THE EYES OF MY MOTHER follows a young girl Francisca (played by wide-eyed cutie Olivia Bond) as she grows into a young woman (played by the enchanting Kika Magalhaes) and how she forms her twisted outlook on love through various tragic events happening to her family. A character only seeking to be loved and to follow in her dear mother’s footsteps, Francisca is first seen taking advice from Mother (Diana Agostini) definitely seems like she has a few loose screws herself as she attempts to educate the young girl in surgery at a very young age. When a mysterious giggling stranger appears on her doorstep, he ends up attacking the house while Father (Paul Nazak) is away, but when he returns and incapacitates the stranger, he is given to Francisca as a sort of present to take care of in the barn, which she does with misguided tenderness. This is but the first domino to topple in Francisca’s psyche through these three chapters.
There’s a simplicity to this film that cannot be denied. The decision to go black and white with this really does set it apart and make it feel more resonant as it covers odd family relations, torture, and more twisted beliefs. Each frame seems to be meticulously plotted out by filmmaker Nicolas Pesce who, like many surreal painters, has an eye for making disgusting and off-putting things look beautiful. The subtle blending of the soft tones also help a lot, as Pesce’s lingering camera makes everything look like a moving and flowing painting during the scenes taking place outside. Inside, there are more harsher tones, reflecting the strong differentiation between the blacks and whites and the moral conflict of the twisted behavior going on behind the walls of the farmhouse and the barn. This all seems very intentionally mapped out by a filmmaker who pays attention to how the softness or harshness of shadow and tone can represent the action of that specific scene. Compare the gentle conversation in a field with a herd of cows and all of its grays to the extreme black and whites of the footage inside the barn with Francisca’s captive pet and you will see a master at work in Pesce’s film.
The acting is out of this world as well. Magalhaes is beautiful and doe-eyed as Francisca, a complex character doing horrible things through the understanding of a child’s view of the world. No matter what horrible acts she commits, I sympathized with her as she is truly a human being cracked by no fault of her own. Agostini is the true standout as Mother here with her haunting, bone-like face to the cold delivery she gives as she teaches her daughter how to cut out an eye is truly chilling. Her performance is what many will remember from this film after the credits. And Will Brill’s performance as the giggling drifter is one that will cause many a nightmare as he descends upon the house.
THE EYES OF MY MOTHER serves as three interconnected shorts starring the same characters at different stages in their lives. Seeing this growth from one point in life to the next feels almost invasive as these moments are delicately and intimately played out. This is an odd film—taking narrative risks and offering extremely flawed characters as the centerpiece, but it’s a brave one to take the chances to do something different with a story. I didn’t want this film to end as this world is truly one of bizarre beauty and a somewhat simple, albeit bent look at life and love. Unfortunately for the lead character, the world isn’t so simple and that’s the biggest moral you’re going to take from this exquisite little horror.
THE 2016-2017 COUNTDOWN!
#5 – THE EYES OF MY MOTHER
#6 – CAPTURE KILL RELEASE
#7 – THE AUTOPSY OF JANE DOE
#8 – IT CHAPTER ONE
#9 – THE VOID
#10 – SWEET SWEET LONELY GIRL
#11 – SAVAGELAND
#12 – IT COMES AT NIGHT
#13 – THE BLACKCOAT’S DAUGHTER
#14 – THE SIMILARS
#15 – HOWL
#16 – SEOUL STATION
#17 – THE TRANSFIGURATION
#18 – THE GREASY STRANGLER
#19 – I AM THE PRETTY THING IN THE HOUSE
#20 – ANNABELLE 2: CREATION
#21 – SPLIT
#22— TRASH FIRE
#23 – 47 METERS DOWN
#24 – HELL HOUSE LLC
#25 – THE SUBLET
#26 – PATCHWORK
#27 – IT STAINS THE SANDS RED
#28 – GERALD’S GAME
#29 – LAKE BODOM
#30 – NIGHT OF SOMETHING STRANGE
#31 – THE EVIL WITHIN
M. L. Miller is a wordslinger/writer of wrongs/reviewer/interviewer/editor of MLMILLERWRITES.COM. Follow @Mark_L_Miller.
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