‘The Eyes of My Mother’: Stupid, sadistic shock-shlock

“I probably could have gone my whole life without seeing that.”

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That’s not a quote from this movie. It’s the lyric that kept playing in my head once I wrestled myself into the awful rhythm of the movie. Ironically, the lyric is from a Weird Al song called ‘With My Own Eyes.’

My eyes only endured all 77 minutes of this pathetic, pretentious garbage so that I could tell you definitively that your eyes would be better off. Being a freelance critic, I often see films that I don’t feel I absolutely need to review. Right now, I am regretting that decision for films such as Demon and Green Room, because those are effective horror films that speak to real-world issues. The Eyes of My Mother makes me retroactively love those movies even more than I already do.

The movie starts promisingly enough. An interesting visual hook leads to some unsettling interactions between the eponymous mother (Dianna Agostini) and her young daughter, Francisca (Olivia Bond). Then the entire tone is derailed by a needlessly brutal murder and some unbelievably botched attempts at frontier justice. These events as written stretch credibility and mark a sharp left turn from brief authenticity, quickly careening into the loony bin.

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Kika Magalhaes plays the adult Francisca. To be fair, she’s not half bad at playing a killer, which is what Francisca becomes. But any shred of emotional involvement is flattened when your main character is a robotic, sadistic, emotionless force of nature that the story doesn’t seem to want to stop.

From the first time we see Francisca as an adult, she is an insane murderer. Even as she knows she needs to reject her own self-imposed isolation in order to actually move forward in her life, she’s literally addicted to inflicting violence and torture. So I guess you could say she’s an interesting and complex character in that way, but she’s also a completely disgusting and un-relatable one. Her actions are unfailingly vexing, gross, and shamefully fetishized by well-composed black-and-white cinematography.

I can only assume that this is a movie made by people I wouldn’t want to hang out with. The kind of horror hipsters who defend Wolf Creek as some kind of stylistic and artistic statement. Both films, in my opinion, set a dangerous precedent for what passes for entertainment in this day and age. But what is deeply troubling is that while Wolf Creek has a 53% on Rotten Tomatoes, which decries it as “tasteless exploitation,” The Eyes of My Mother has a 75% and is described as “a hauntingly hypnotic odyssey […].”

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I’d love to hear directly from someone who enjoyed this. I wonder if they’d change their tune if the film was shot in color. Then again, maybe movies like this are better kept in the fantasy realm of grayscale. Lord knows we don’t need this kind of suffering to be any more real.

The Eyes of My Mother = D

The Eyes of My Mother is rated R for disturbing violent content and behavior, and brief nudity.

-George Napper

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