The Eyes of My Mother / LA Confidential

Call me a "simpleton" or "uncultured", but I tend to stay away from movies that are subtitled or presented in black and white. Obviously that's not to say I've never enjoyed either. It's just that whenever I make time to watch a movie, I want to get as immersed into the story as possible. And for me, I find reading subtitles or watching a movie that isn't in color pulls me out of the experience. Embarrassingly, it's this irrational mindset that's prevented me from watching such horror greats as the French films Martyrs and Raw, the black and white classic Eraserhead or the controversial The Bunny Game. Again... just me. But this tidbit perfectly frames how out of the ordinary it was for me to give The Eyes of My Mother a chance — although in my defense, I have watched (and enjoyed) A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night.

By my estimation, The Eyes of My Mother literally had everything going against it. It's black and white. It's (lightly) subtitled. But the one thing it did have was the overwhelming support of the Dreadit community. I've seen this movie pop up in threads as a "favorite" or "must-see" so many times that I couldn't continue ignore it any longer. The trailer was intriguing and the runtime clocks in at just under an hour and fifteen minutes. So even it did end up being a total borefest, at least I wouldn't have wasted a ton of time.

With the night's movie selection locked in, all I had to do now was decide on which strain I'd toke on. Anticipating a movie that was going to be difficult for me to sit through, I felt like I needed as much assistance as I could get to keep me engaged. The last thing I wanted was to experiment with some unproven strain. I needed something familiar. A reliable strain that's proven to consistently deliver the effects I wanted. A strain that would keep me captivated even if I were just watching paint dry. Immediately a few came to mind, but I ultimately reached for some LA Confidential - the same strain I selected when I watched The Killing of a Sacred Deer. LA Confidential is a calming, slightly psychedelic indica that hits quick and hits hard. Once the effects take hold, it'll leave you locked in place with zero desire to do anything. Buds are light green in color with orange hairs and a distinct skunky smell. The flavor is piney and hits smooth.

With a generally positive sentiment, a quick Google search however reveals this isn't a movie for everyone. Heck, I didn't even think this was going to be a movie for me! Thankfully I was wrong. This impressive debut is the brainchild of first-time writer/director Nicolas Pesce. I can't help but think if this is what he was able to create in his first outing, where will he go from here? But that's a completely different discussion. The Eyes of My Mother stars Kika Magalhães as Francisca, a woman who's been tragically shaped into a deranged monster as a result of isolation, loss, loneliness, and a healthy serving of tragic childhood trauma. After an out-of-context opening scene, the movie begins with Francisca as a young girl spending time with her mother, an ex-eye surgeon in their remote farmhouse miles from civilization. Wishing for her daughter to follow in her footsteps, they would perform animal dissections at home to help fuel her fascination. During a dissection of a cow's head early in the film, they're interrupted by an intruder who ultimately murders Francesca's mother. Her father arrives home during the attack and is able to apprehend and knock the man unconscious. Instead of killing or hand him over to authorities, he drags the body to the barn outside the farmhouse, strips him naked, and chains him up so he can't escape.

Meanwhile, now that her mother is dead, Francesca yearns for the love and attention of her father - which he never gives. So Francisca finds a "friend" in Charlie, the man who murdered her mother. But it isn't long before Francesca's father is pushed to the brink of killing Charlie because of the constant cries of pain and anguish coming from the barn. Hoping to make her father happy (and also save Charlie's life) Francesca "surgically" severs his vocal cords and removes his eyes. Not only does this prevent him from making any more noise to disturb her father, but it hampers any chance to navigate if he were able to miraculously escape. So does this act get her in the good graces of her father? Nope. In fact a time jump reveals that a couple years later he dies leaving Francesca without any family at all. No parental guidance. No support or direction from a community. Nobody to nurture her.

What comes next is a slow, nightmarish "coming of age" portrait of a woman's descent into pure evil. But because the first act is spent focusing on her ruinous upbringing, by the time we witness Francesca performing such heinous acts, there's almost a feeling of sympathy that's difficult to explain. Maybe it's just me, but I always believed there to be a childhood innocents behind her brutality as if she wasn't quite aware what she was doing was wrong; even perhaps normal. There's an underlying sadness that beats throughout that all stems from the damage and trauma inflicted on a young girl during her most formative years.

Watching this movie high definitely elevated the overall experience. I've heard from others that they thought the movie was boring, too slow, or not graphic enough. But high on LA Confidential, I never felt any of that. Yes, the movie does shy away from showing the wicked acts of violence with smash cuts straight to the aftermath, but I found leaving the gore absent was an effective choice. And yes, even with its brisk hour and fifteen runtime, scenes tend to be quiet and drawn out. Again, I found this technique to be effective as it gave the impression that I was watching events unfold like a fly on the wall. Another added benefit of watching this movie high, particularly with a slightly psychedelic strain, is that (as God as my witness) there were flashes of highlighted color all throughout. I could see the red blood, the brown wooden planks in the farmhouse, and especially the green trees in the forest. It was so vivid, that I had to remind myself that I was obviously hallucinating and the movie was black and white. In fact, just to be sure, I did pull a couple scenes the next day to rewatch. Yup... the movie is 100% black and white, sans the yellow subtitles.

Overall, I can not recommend this movie highly enough... but only if you're a specific type of horror fan. If you tend to raise your nose at pretentious arthouse horror, or can't stand psychological slow-burns with limited dialogue, action, and gore, I'd stay clear. If on the other hand that sounds like something in your wheelhouse I would suggest dropping whatever you're doing and watch this movie immediately. For me, The Eyes of My Mother opened my eyes to the beauty of black and white. Perhaps it was the weed, but I now have an appreciation for black and white I hadn't had up until now. But enough about me, how about you? Have you watched The Eyes of My Mother or tried LA Confidential? What are your thoughts? Did you have a similar experience? Please leave a comment and let me know. And of course, don't forget to follow Bloody High on Instagram, Twitter and Facebook.

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