The feature debut of writer/director/editor Nicolas Pesce, “The Eyes of My Mother” looks marvelous. Shot in black-and-white video, the 76-minute horror film benefits from crisp, striking visuals that are well framed and moodily lit. But that’s about all this absurd, illogical and underwhelming thriller has going for it.
The thread of the film’s slender narrative follows a disturbed young woman named Francisca from childhood, where she is played by Olivia Bond, into adulthood, where Portuguese-born actress Kika Magalhaes brings a deranged — yet not terribly convincing — intensity to the role.
Presumably off her rocker from having witnessed her mother (Diana Agostini) being murdered during the home invasion that opens the film, Francisca has grown into an occasional thrill-killer herself, although the film sometimes relegates these murders to just off camera. When they’re shown, they can be disgustingly squelchy, with sound effects of a knife repeatedly entering and exiting flesh.
The crimes are also fairly incomprehensible. Pesce’s spare screenplay offers precious little in the way of psychological insight, other than to speculate that Francisca, like the man (Will Brill) who killed her mother, gets some sort of sexual kick out of killing. Through what mechanism this transference has occurred is unclear.
Why the film has the title it does — other than the fact that Mom was once an eye surgeon — is another annoying mystery.
During an exchange with a woman (Clara Wong) Francisca has picked up in a bar, the hapless casualty-in-waiting says, “I don’t do this very often.” “Neither do I,” says Francisca, to which her soon-to-be victim replies, “So, we both have an excuse to be awkward.”
Presumably, that is also Pesce’s excuse.
(At Screenland Armour.)
‘The Eyes of My Mother’
Rated R. Time: 1:16.