One of our favorite films at Fantastic Fest 2016 has to have been the stark and powerfully-twisted, “The Eyes Of My Mother.”

The central story focuses on a young girl named Francisca living with her mother and father on a small farm. When their peaceful lives are suddenly disrupted by Charlie (Will Brill) a traveling serial killer, Francisca finds herself without a mother. The absence of her mother (and the violent way she lost her) forces young Francisca to grow up isolated and falling into a dark and violent place of her own.

This film is absolutely chilling while also being one hundred percent heartbreaking.  Francisca’s loss and her inability to function outside of psychosis is something that blurs the line between traditional horror and tense drama. Kika Magalhaes who plays Francisca gives a perfect performance in every facet of her path. She hits all of the critical terrifying bits and the heartbreaking debts of being alone. A lot of the terrible things that she does are driven by loneliness and the inability to have formed a persona capable of relationships and social interaction.

It is searing with beauty,

melancholy and terror”

The Eyes Of My Mother, does a great job of exploring nature versus nurture and what happens to individuals that are forced into certain arenas suddenly and unwillingly.

This film is great for all the reasons listed, but it also is absolutely still a horror film at its core. The black and white stylized violence works as intended. It is hard to picture this film working in color. The contrast of black to white within Francisca’s home are palpable and reminiscent to choices Hitchcock made in Psycho.

Surprisingly, this is director Nicolas Pesce’s first feature film. This is surprising because of the weight and perfect direction the film commands and receives. The Eyes Of My Mother has a timeless feel to it. If you caught this one on late night television it would be hard to differentiate what time period this film was made in. This alone sets it apart from anything you are likely to see this year. It is searing with beauty, melancholy and terror.

This is an exciting entry to the genre. Pesce is a director to keep an eye out for, (no put intended) his choices are resolute and unique. This is a film that stays with you and challenges you to break it down long after your first viewing.