It's tempting to see The Eyes of My Mother -- the breathtaking new horror film from newcomer Nicolas Pesce (pay attention to this fella!) -- through the lens of its many influences. I thought a lot about Martyrs while watching it but my viewing companion first mentioned The Loved Ones; meanwhile both of us agreed on A Girl Walks Home Alone at Night. There is a list of others - and The Others! - but The Eyes of My Mother never feels like it's using these as crutches; it's not propping up a lack of invention by goosing our recall of previous flesh fests.
It is both greater than the sum of its parts, and singular in its use of its parts. It is strange. It not only puts its parts together in a new way, it remolds each one, lovingly, like wax melted, pressed, before it forms up into its own sort of scary somnambulist monster. A sort of genre golem -- a bedtime freak-out fairy-tale for the genuinely disturbed, whispering its many screams.
It is profoundly troubling, the work of a maybe mad-man - it's a real damned feat. If you allow yourself to steep in it, to let the milky smooth mystery substance break your membrane, it'll probably change your body chemistry just a bit. Smiles and eyeballs, not always in that order. The film is brief, maybe a hair too short, but there's something right about that too, as if when the credits roll you've woken up in the dark in the middle of a nightmare and now you're trying to work your brain backwards to put together all the pieces and make sense of it but it won't allow you to. It clouds you. Corrupts. It's grand horror.