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Film / The Eyes of My Mother

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"Please mother, help me."

The Eyes of My Mother is a 2016 Psychological Horror film directed by Nicholas Pesce. It tells the story of Francisca, a Portuguese-American girl who lives in an isolated farmhouse with her mother, a surgeon and devout Catholic, and her father, an emotionally distant rancher. One day, the family is assaulted by a home invader, leaving the mother dead and Francisca traumatized. As the years pass following this incident, Francisca's trauma deepens and she develops a morbid obsession with violence. When her father passes away, her loneliness drives her to seek a new family...


Tropes this film displays:

  • Adult Fear: The film absolutely runs on this, starting when Francisca's mother looks out the window and sees her talking to a strange man. Reaches its absolute peak when Francisca steals Antonio right out of Lucy's arms and runs back in the house; Lucy's terrified screams and pleas for Francisca not to hurt him are absolutely bone-chilling.
  • Ambiguous Disorder: Francisca is clearly extremely unwell, but whether it's the result of trauma or a more deeply ingrained disorder is left ambiguous.
  • Ambiguously Bi: Francisca is at least bicurious, as she takes Kimiko home for a date, but she may just be exploring her sexuality.
  • And I Must Scream: Charlie and later Lucy are kept chained up 24/7, with their eyes and vocal cords cut out so they can't escape or scream for help. After she realizes what's been done to her, Lucy tries to scream but only produces a gurgle.
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  • Asshole Victim: Considering that he's a serial killer and probable rapist, it's pretty hard to feel bad for Charlie, even despite his inhumanly gruesome fate. And for how much of a Tragic Villain she is, Francisca herself likely won't engender much sympathy when she's killed by the police at the end.
  • Bald of Evil: Francisca's father is an emotionally dead person whose idea of vigilante justice is keeping a man chained up in the barn for more than a decade. Even though he's never shown to be abusive, it's likely that Francisca is as fucked up as she is simply because of his influence. He's also bald.
  • Big Damn Heroes: A bleak, downplayed example. Francisca's father comes home while Charlie is raping her mother and knocks him out with a blow to the head, but by the time he arrives she's already dead and Charlie is just repeatedly bashing her corpse with his pistol.
  • Bilingual Dialogue: Much of Francisca's dialogue is in Portuguese.
  • Bitch in Sheep's Clothing: Francisca acts quite courteous and polite to her victims before resorting to violence. Considering that she's implied to largely be Obliviously Evil, it's ambiguous as to how much of it is an act.
  • Bolivian Army Ending: Antonio lets Lucy out of the barn, and she wanders for many miles until she's picked up by a trucker. That night the police raid the farmhouse and Francisca barricades herself in the bathroom with Antonio. As the camera cuts outside, we hear a gunshot.
  • Bury Your Gays: Kimiko is Francisca's first kill.
  • Children Are Innocent: Antonio seems to be surprisingly well-adjusted for someone raised by Francisca, and is moral enough to be horrified by Lucy's fate and help her escape when he sees what Francisca's done to her.
  • Creepy Child: Francisca didn't seem to be too bad prior to the death of her mother, barring an interest in surgery. Afterwards, though, she's completely emotionless, fascinated by dead things, and keeping her mother's killer chained up as a pet in the barn. While periodically performing surgery on him.
  • Deliberately Monochrome: Filmed completely in black-and-white, lending it an arthouse sheen. The AV Club described it as "The Texas Chain Saw Massacre directed by Ingmar Bergman" for this reason.
  • Double Standard: Rape, Female on Male: After being rebuffed by Kimiko, Francisca drags Charlie out of the barn and rapes him in the bedroom.
  • Emotionless Girl: Francisca, though she has some private emotional breakdowns when her loneliness gets to her.
  • Evil Feels Good: While stabbing Charlie to death, Francisca admits this to herself.
    "You're right. This does feel amazing."
  • Eye Scream: Francisca surgically removes Charlie's and Lucy's eyes, along with their vocal cords.
  • Fan Disservice: Francisca gets naked at one point, but it's for the purpose of raping the helpless, mutilated Charlie.
  • A Fate Worse Than Death: Happens to Charlie and, later, Lucy. See And I Must Scream for details.
    Charlie: You're gonna kill me, right?
    Francisca: No. Why would I do that? You're my friend.
  • Faux Affably Evil: Charlie pretends to be a friendly salesman in order to get inside the house, only to then pull out a pistol and drag Francisca's mother into the bathroom to be raped.
  • For the Evulz: Charlie admits that he only does what he does because "it feels amazing".
  • Gory Discretion Shot: As gruesome as it is, very little of the violence actually happens oncreen. We mostly just see the aftermath of it.
  • How We Got Here: The film opens with a truck driver stopping to help a woman collapsed in the middle of the road. We only learn the context of this near the very end.
  • Incest Subtext: Francisca seems to have a bit of an Electra Complex; she sleeps in the same bed as her father, repeatedly asks him to dance, and bathes him when he becomes infirm. After he dies, she performs a seductive Portuguese dance for his corpse.
  • Leave the Camera Running: The camerawork mostly consists of long, static, silent takes.
  • Madwoman in the Attic: After being disabled by Francisca's father, Charlie is kept chained up in the shed, where Francisca turns him into her pet. Years later, after she kills him for trying to escape, Francisca does the same thing with Lucy.
  • Murder Ballad: The trucker in the opening scene is listening to one on the radio, which foreshadows the rest of the film.
  • No Social Skills: All of Francisca's social interactions are extremely stilted and awkward, due to her spending her entire life on the farm and hardly ever seeing anyone else.
  • Pay Evil unto Evil: Francisca's father imprisons Charlie in her shed and lets his daughter treat him as a pet.
  • Obliviously Evil: Francisca doesn't seem to realize that anything she does is wrong, and in fact seems to love her prisoners in her own fashion.
  • Serial Killer: Charlie, who is also likely a Serial Rapist.
  • Silence Is Golden: There's very little dialogue.
  • Sound-Only Death: The murder of Francisca's mother doesn't happen onscreen; we just hear a series of pounding noises from the bathroom.
  • Talking to the Dead: Francisca often prays to her mother, and near the end of the film digs up her skeleton and talks to it.
  • Tragic Villain: Francisca was deeply traumatized by the murder of her mother and never got a chance to healthily process it because of her sociopathic father. She doesn't seem to realize that anything she does is wrong and is driven more by loneliness and a desire for human contact than sadism.
  • Villain Protagonist: Francisca, of the Tragic Villain variety.

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