Nicolas Pesce’s The Eyes of My Mother is a relentless nightmare, a movie that carries the same unsettling tone from the moment it starts to its very last frame—it’s a rare breed of horror that sinks its claws in early and never lets go. This shocking tale of loneliness is one for the ages, an unbroken nightmare of a movie that creates an unforgettable monster. In it, a young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life.
I’m not sure where to even start with this movie because it’s just so different than what we’ve seen out of the genre lately; it’s a monster movie without fangs or claws, a horror story without a hero or hope—The Eyes of My Mother’s Francisca makes Norman Bates look like Mr. Rogers. It’s just this nasty, hopeless, and absolutely haunting little film that, while only 76 minutes long, packs the biggest punch of any horror film this year… easily.
But what sets The Eyes of My Mother apart from the rest of this year’s genre offerings is the way it holds onto those first ten horrific minutes and carries that darkness throughout the entire film—this movie is never not completely unnerving, which makes it a special kind of horror film. And a lot of that can be attributed to the director’s attention to detail and his ability to create a grim little world that’s ruled by a monster named Francisca. The way he blends the black & white aesthetic of old school horror with a shocking and altogether disturbing twist is absolutely jarring, and the result is some of the most grotesque horror you’ll ever see.
And driving that madness behind the monster is a theme as powerful as it is consuming—loneliness. It’s that loneliness that consumes Francisca, woven from the death of a loved one, that turns her into the monster that she becomes. What’s so interesting (and totally unique) about this film is that there is no hero and certainly no one to root for—Francisca is the entire pulse of the film. And despite being a total, tormenting monster, you can’t help but feel sad for her; she needs to be loved as badly as she needs to die. It’s a bold way to tell a story, one that’s centered on such a nasty person, but Pesce and his mad mind make it work and it’s a large part of why the film is so goddamn good. There’s just nothing else quite like it.
Although it’s only his first feature film, Nicolas Pesce has delivered something truly special with The Eyes of My Mother—it’s a film that defines horror. And in doing so, Pesce has established himself as one of the most exciting filmmakers around (I can’t even begin to imagine what he’ll do next), by creating a moody piece of nightmare cinema that’s destined to become a classic.