Beautiful to look at and full of grotesque ideas, yet the rigid compositions and emphasis on “distance as atmosphere” make The Eyes of My Mother yet another entry in the “art horror” wave that constantly leaves me unfulfilled.
Basically The Texas Chainsaw Massacre viewed through a Bergman filter (the go-to comparison for anything gloomy and stark shot in black and white), it’s the perfect alternative for those who like their horror to be more cerebral and composed. Personally, I prefer my horror through a visceral lens; immersive atmosphere, an all-seeing camera, POV shots, extreme close ups, painful, kinetic violence etc. I’ve never found it to be a genre that works successfully through static, perfectly composed shots and minimalism. The Shining, for instance, has never done it for me as a horror movie. Of-course there are exceptions to the rule and, as with anything, my response is totally subjective. But as much as I can admire the craft and aesthetics of films like It Follows, The Witch, Dear Mommy and now The Eyes of My Mother, I just don’t connect with them nor do I find them especially effective in their attempts to terrify. A locked off camera shot and oppressive sound design just doesn’t do it for me as much as seeing red veins punctuate the white of an eyeball.
That being said, The Eyes of My Mother runs for the perfect duration (76 mins is the new 90 people) so it doesn’t outstay its welcome. Writer/director Nicolas Pesce clearly has a good eye and control over his medium and I can’t deny that’s a very well made little debut. Sadly it just didn’t do enough innovating to leave any permanent scar tissue.