The Eyes of My Mother – Review

Horror as a Genre has had its ups and downs.

There are so many iconic Horror films made both on larger budgets or for next to nothing. Big productions or made on handheld cameras. It is a Genre with a wide spectrum of styles and narratives. The current trend of Horror films seems to be excessive gore, mystery backstories and being released in series of eight-hundred. Arguably an iconic Horror has not been made in a while, so is the Genre in a rut?

Yet the better Horror films of the last few years are one’s audience must search for with smaller releases. Films like The Witch and It Follows. If you are bored of the recent scare-fests and you want a horror film that stays with you long after it has finished, then the debut film of Nicolas Pesce may be for you. The Eyes of My Mother is a haunting yet violent tale that feels fresh in the sea of sequels and spin off Horrors.  

Young Francisca lives an isolated existence with her mother and father on a farm. Her unconventional upbringing includes her mother teaching her how to remove eyes and other organs from dead animals. One day, a salesman called Charlie comes calling at their home who Mother lets in the house, against her better judgment. This error leads to tragic consequences yet Father and Francisca carry on unaffected. As time goes on Francisca is left alone but just what happens when a girl with her past and knowledge is let loose in the world?

The film is the debut of director Nicolas Pesce who also wrote and edited the film. Pesce has no former filmmaking credits to his name but has worked as crew on productions. Despite his inexperience, he has produced a solid and stand-out debut with The Eyes of My Mother.   

The story is told in a three-chapter sequence, Mother, Father and Family. Each chapter examines a relationship with Francisca and the world in which she lives in. Each section climaxes with harsh violence and an almost unbiased view on events. The film is a window into a cold world which occasionally collides with our own. The films use of excessive and prolonged violence will divide audiences but this is a well told narrative, even if it is an uncomfortable watch.

The film is clearly made on a micro-budget and shot in black and white. Whether this was a budget constraint or a stylistic choice, the outcome has been making a grim tale all the more eerie. All shadows feel menacing and every line becomes a sharp edge, thanks to the monochrome aesthetic.

The filmmakers have also used almost no outside sound giving the film a natural feel. Silence can stretch across scenes and all noises feel amplified in the world of the film. Wind rustling, food being eaten to later chains dragging and knives plunging. All this adds to the eerie and isolated tone of the film.  

Much of the film’s success is down to its lead actress Kika Magalhaes. Able to hold scenes by herself for long periods of time but also playing the role with real duality. Francisca is played as an innocent character, genuinely alone and who does not truly feel the horror of her actions. Yet as the film progresses her real darkness emerges. Set against her appearance of an unthreatening and pretty young woman, the character is a fascinating and uncomfortable watch.

An eerie, slow burning and haunting tale. The level of violence will turn some audiences away but this is a strong film and an impressive debut. Nicolas Pesce is a filmmaker to watch out for.  

Mystery Science Theatre 3000 – Brand New Trailer!

The true mark of a geek is whether or not you know of what is called in common parlance as the MST3K Mantra. It is this little phrase that helps soothe the most savage of nerds whenever they get too het up over a film or TV series, and it’s pretty useful in other situations as well.

Fortunately, for those who are unaware of the Mantra, you need not condemn yourself to pondering its mysteries for much longer for Mystery Science Theatre 3000 is returning in April for yet another glorious dose of mocking terrible films!

The latest trailer that has been released for the new series shows it is still maintaining the original look and feel of the original, with handmade models and fairly cheap looking sets lending a sense of love and passion to the endeavour. Topping it off is a fantastic cast including Patton Oswalt, Felicia Day and Jonah Ray as the three main characters on The Satellite of Love.

What films will be torn to shreds this time? We’ll find out on April 14th when MST3K comes to Netflix!

Aquarius – Review

According to, a website I had otherwise never heard of, those born under the star sign of Aquarius have the positive attributes of truthfulness, curiosity, justice, an affectionate personality, frankness and imagination. I don’t know what star sign Clara (Sonia Braga), the hero of Kleber Mendonça Filho’s sophomore feature, Aquarius, was born under but she has many of these qualities. If I didn’t know better, I would say that the astoundingly talented Mendonça Filho had taken a sneaky peek at the definition of an Aquarius before naming his film and situating his sixty-five year old protagonist in a near empty apartment block of that name.

Isabelle Huppert wasn’t the only older actress who was robbed at this year’s American Academy Awards, Braga, who is magnificent in the movie, brave – at one point photographed with only one breast – spirited and plum right, wasn’t even invited to the party with zero nominations for her sterling work. At least she didn’t have to put up with Oscar host Jimmy Kimmel’s tedious jibes at Matt Damon. Matt Damon! I imagine Braga sat at home, opened up a bottle of wine and listened to music, just like her character might.

The log line of Aquarius is ‘a widowed music critic makes unpleasant discoveries when she pits herself against a developer who wants to move her out of an otherwise empty apartment block in Recife, Brazil’. This doesn’t really do justice to the film, which I must warn you, has a leisurely pace and runs at 146 minutes. Not that this reviewer minded – you drink good wines slowly, savouring every drop.

We first meet Clara as a young woman in 1980 in an exuberant mood, travelling in a car with friends on a beach. She is on her way to a party for an older (female) relation. Clara has just had a mastectomy – she beat her cancer – but this is never mentioned. The party scene culminates with the birthday relative paying tribute to her lover. Old people tell the truth because there is no reason to hide.

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In the first of three chapters – Mendonça Filho loves chapter headings – we meet the present day Clara. Her former neighbours have all accepted offers to move. She is the only resident of the apartment block near Recife Beach called Aquarius. Once she leaves, the developer can tear it down and replace it with a modern building. Clara is standing in the way of progress, but she has a right to her home. It is where her memories come to life. At one point, the camera pans around a room and pauses to take in a chest of drawers. Mendonça Filho smash-cuts to the young Clara having sex whilst she is seated on said drawers. Halcyon days – and, of course, symbolic!

We see Clara socialise and being taken home by a man her age. But she doesn’t want a replacement for her late husband. The tension is: what will make her move? Is she in a state of crisis?

The developer goes to insidious lengths to persuade Clara that Aquarius is not the place for her, at one point allowing the empty apartment above hers to be used for a sex party. In the interest of consumer advice, it is pretty graphic. Clara’s response perfectly sums up her character. Rather than call the police, she telephones for a gigolo.

Now I know what you’re thinking: what sort of film is this for Mother’s Day? If you’re reading this review after 26 March, well, probably not. But our mothers are sensual, complex mysterious people who don’t accept that they will one day rely on social care. This film makes that point perfectly.

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21st Century Brazilian cinema is associated with favela dramas like City of God or Elite Squad or the contemplative character studies offered by Walter Salles before he went to Hollywood or the social studies of Anna Muylaert whose The Second Mother was one of my favourite films of 2015. (Her follow-up, Don’t Call Me Son, about a teenage boy who likes to wear dresses, is still awaiting a UK release.) Mendonça Filho, a former film critic, offers something else. His films are interested in the unsaid, what we don’t see, and how characters live rather than how they cope.

Aquarius isn’t a generic drama about the underdog taking on the big corporation or a transformative year about a character struggling with a trauma or flaw. It is about living; how we might live when we are sixty-five, with all the ravages of experience. It is a movie that re-orientates what you expect from cinema. You look at Clara and think: ‘I want to be like her.’

Aquarius opens on March 24th

Death Note – Brand New Trailer & Clips!

Anime is an ever growing phenomenon that attracts fans from every age group and bracket. Because it is an ever growing thing, many Western film-making groups are leaping on the chance to bring it to our cinemas and TVs.

Thanks to Netflix, anime’s most famed series Death Note is getting an American remake.

Starring The Fault in Our Stars’ Nat Woolf, Death Note revolves around a teenage boy who finds the titular notebook on the ground and discovers that if you right someones name in it, they’ll certainly die.

What I respect about this more than say, Ghost in the Shell, that they completely changed cultures and adapted it for the Sates. Although, isn’t that more chilling? After all, an isolated white boy on a killing spree.

Fans of the original may find it crass, and exhausting after many live-action remakes in Japan, but with The Guest‘s Adam Winguard at the helm, there is hope this could be good.

What do you think?

Death Note is out on Netflix August 25th.