My first screening of my second day at Fantasia was The Eyes of My Mother, Un Chien Andalou-style homeschooler who slices open cow eyeballs to demonstrate ocular anatomy, setting up Francisca’s future lack of squeamishness about physical mutilation. Francisca is devoted to her mother, while papa, by contrast, is what we euphemistically call “distant.” Knowing only her parents, the girl loses half of her socialization opportunities when mother dies in a gruesome fashion while Francisca is still a tyke. This event sends her already stoic father into a state of near catatonic depression, and sets up Francisca’s lifelong quest for companionship that goes horribly wrong in ways that I won’t spoil here. Although Mother is packed with grisly sequences—a couple of scenes had the jaded horror crowd squirming in their seats—overall it is more of a psychological character study than a horror show. Kika Magalhaes holds down the fort as the adult Francisca, lonely and deranged, and the script makes her as sympathetic as possible; her lack of human empathy is understandable, given the odd, near-feral circumstances of her childhood. Bleak as hell, both in its subject and its visuals, Mother unspools in a non-specific, grayscale, timeless rural void. The soundtrack mixing Portuguese fado with old-timey country death ballads ensures we won’t mistake the film’s style for anything contemporary or accessible.‘s black and white horror/art film that made a minor splash at Sundance in the NEXT category. The SGWU Hall was about half full for this one (which still means a couple of hundred folks attended). The title is suggested by the fact that our anti-heroine Francisca’s mother was an eye surgeon in her native Portugal, before immigrating to the U.S. to live on an isolated farm. Mom is an
Those who love Eyes of My Mother are going to defend it as a beautiful nightmare, but commercially it’s a hard sell, and may not get enough distribution to find a following. This is a movie that falls between audiences: it’s too slow and somber for the average horror fan, but too gruesome and disturbing for all but the most adventurous of art-house patrons. For our purposes, it’s not weird; it is, in fact, all too realistic—not a stylistic flaw, but a fact that puts it on the periphery of this site’s circle of interest.
Mother was preceded by the short “Agravoy,” an impressionistic, subjective story of an unkempt stranger who spies on the romantic trysts of two apartment-dwellers through a series of peepholes. The sound design is intense and director Jacob Nizzola has promise, with an eye (and ear) for weirdness. He’s someone to look out for.
Just like at yesterday’s screening of As the Gods Will, I arrived late to the lineup for The Wailing—which wasn’t a pre screening sell-out, but Continue reading FANTASIA FILM FESTIVAL DIARY, 7/18/2016 (THE EYES OF MY MOTHER & THE WAILING)