"Unique But Often Boring and Lurid Horrorshow"
What You Need To Know:
THE EYES OF MY MOTHER is told matter-of-factly, without much of the overheated flourishes of other horror movies about serial killers. This results in some interesting camerawork and stylistic nuances. However, the movie’s slow, a bit boring and rather pretentious. Happily, it has no foul language and doesn’t linger on violent, bloody images or gore. That said, THE EYES OF MY MOTHER has a very strong humanist, anti-supernatural worldview with other disturbing, abhorrent elements. Media-wise moviegoers will not be interested in EYES OF MY MOTHER.
(HHH, B, C, AbAbAb, HoHo, VVV, SS, NN, A, MM) Very strong humanist worldview explores the dangers of loneliness, being isolated from society, losing one’s mother at an early age, and having an emotionally detached father and uses religion as a prop rather than something substantial or life-affirming (including some references to St. Francis of Assisi, but one of his visions is debunked as an eye condition, and young woman prays before a meal, but she becomes a serial killer after a traumatic incident), but the worldview is not a dogmatic, polemical humanism like Marxism or a godless evolutionary science, plus a scene where the female serial killer brings home a woman she picked up in a bar; no foul language; some very strong and strong violence with some blood but in black and white, includes character’s eyes have apparently been removed, and their eyelids sewn shut by a serial killer, protagonist’s mother has slaughtered a cow and cuts apart one of the cow’s eyes to instruct her daughter in the anatomy of a human eye that she claims is similar to a cow’s eye, implied cannibalism, scene where woman sews up another character’s wound, serial killer has apparently cut out the larynxes of two victims so they can’t talk (a sewed wound on a woman’s throat is shown and then bandaged), sounds of woman plunging a knife into three victims (one victim gets several such attacks in one of the three scenes, sounds of a killer bludgeoning a corpse with a hammer (the murder happens in a bathtub, but the victim isn’t shown), images of a man with a bloody wound on his head, images of people having had their eyelids sewn together; strong sexual content includes a disturbing theme linking sex and violence, female serial killer brings home a woman she picked up in a bar and kisses the woman before she stabs her repeatedly, and young woman kisses male victim’s upper back as she tends to his wounds, some of which she apparently inflicted; side view of upper female nudity when woman takes off all her clothes (genital nudity is implied but not shown frontally); brief beer drinking, and woman goes into a bar; no smoking or drugs; and, protagonist kidnaps woman’s young son and afterwards stabs woman and keeps her chained up in her barn while she raises the boy as her own son, forced imprisonment, intruder deceitfully forces his way into an isolated farmhouse, and man doesn’t call police after his wife is murdered but beats up the killer and imprisons him in his barn.
THE EYES OF MY MOTHER is a pseudo-intellectual horror movie shot in black and white about a young girl on an isolated farm who grows up to be a serial killer, kidnapper and possible cannibal. Though it has some interesting camerawork and stylistic touches, THE EYES OF MY MOTHER is often boring and a bit pretentious, with a gruesome and ultimately abhorrent, but subdued, plot that has no foul language and often doesn’t show the really gory parts but has many other disturbing, objectionable elements.
The movie begins with little Francisca’s mother, a former Portuguese eye surgeon, showing he daughter the parts of a cow’s eye. After butchering a cow off screen, the mother cuts out one of the cow’s lenses. The father comes home during this, but doesn’t say anything.
One day, a strange man comes to their farmhouse, asking to use the bathroom. Inside the house, he begins to act even more strange and virtually orders the mother to show him exactly where the bathroom is. She refuses, and he pulls a gun to get her to walk through the living room to the bathroom with him while Francisca waits in the kitchen.
Cut to the father coming home and finding out the man has murdered the mother. He beats up the man off screen and chains him up in the barn. That night, Francisca helps her father bury her mother.
Cut again to about 10 years later or so. Francisca is now a young woman. She goes to the barn to visit her father’s kidnap victim, the man who murdered her mother. When he asks why she doesn’t just kill him, she says it’s because he’s her only friend.
Eventually, at some point, her father becomes an invalid and dies, and Francisca kills the man in the barn while kissing the upper part of his naked back. Apparently, Francisca has sewn the man’s eyelids shut and cut out his larynx so he can’t talk. Later, it’s shown she’s wrapped some of the man’s body parts in cellophane to store in her fridge. Then, she appears outside, where she throws one of the man’s legs onto a fire.
One night, Francisca drives her father’s car to a local bar. She enters the bar and later is shown talking to a young woman in her car. The young woman comes home with her. During some small talk, Francisca kisses the woman on the lips. She tells the woman her mother was murdered but offers no details. When the woman asks about her father, Francisca says she killed him. Distraught by this unexpected revelation, the woman tries to leave, but Francisca follows her outside, where she stabs the woman to death while embracing her.
Shortly thereafter, Francisca poses as a hitchhiker. A mother driving her car with her new baby, Antonio, picks her up. The woman tries to drop Francisca off at her farmhouse, but Francisca kidnaps Antonio, stabs the mother, then chains the wounded mother in the barn.
What will Francisca do with Antonio? Will her reign of terror ever be stopped?
THE EYES OF MY MOTHER is told matter-of-factly, without much of the overheated cinematic flourishes of other horror movies about serial killers. This results in some interesting camerawork and stylistic nuances. However, it’s also sometimes a bit boring and somewhat pretentious. For example, the scene where Francisca pretends to be a hitchhiker is sleep inducing because it’s shot from long distance and goes on for a long time. That shot is boring, but it’s also pretentious because it’s so gratuitous. Only a few moments in this movie have any real suspense, such as a scene where Francisca asks the mother in the car if she can hold Antonio for a moment before they drive away.
THE EYES OF MY MOTHER has no foul language and little blood and gore. There are, however, a couple scenes where viewers can hear rather but not see Francisca stab the knife into her victim’s flesh. Also, except for the lesbian kiss and a couple weird but anticlimactic scenes, there’s nothing overtly lewd in the movie. That said, it’s clear that sex and violence are somehow part of the violent psychosis that turns Francisca into a serial killer.
Ultimately, THE EYES OF MY MOTHER is a lurid, gruesome, abhorrent tale. It has a very strong humanist worldview that’s not overtly polemical. However, the young serial killer prays before one meal. In addition, before she’s murdered, her mother tells Francisca briefly about St. Francis of Assisi, the renowned Christian monk, but the mother suggests that one of the saint’s primary visions was probably the result of a physical eye condition, not a miracle. So, the movie seems to have a strong anti-supernatural, humanist message. As such, its few religious references are used more as a prop rather than anything else. In effect, the movie’s worldview shows the dangers of loneliness, being isolated from society, losing one’s mother at an early age, and having an emotionally detached father. Essentially, the young girl in the movie has nothing outside of herself to steer her toward the good, and so she becomes a psychotic, dispassionate serial killer with no way of showing any real emotion. The ending shows she’s on the verge of being caught and the boy she’s kidnapped of being freed. However, the ending is also a bit open ended, with no real resolution. It’s an artsy ending that’s somewhat interesting but still rather pretentious and anti-climactic.
Media-wise moviegoers will not be interested in THE EYES OF MY MOTHER.