Category Archives: A+

Review: Stree

Director(s)Amar Kaushik
Principal CastShraddha Kapoor as the mysterious woman
Rajkummar Rao as Vicky
Aparshakti Kurana as Bittu
Abishek Banerjee as Jaana
Pankaj Tripathi as Rudra
Release Date 2018
Language(s)Hindi
Running Time128 minutes

This highly slept on horror comedy follows Vicky, a tailor with genius abilities who becomes smitten with an unknown woman who shows up during his town’s esoteric festival/ritual meant to ward off a man-snatching spirit aptly named Stree (which means woman in Hindi). As the supernatural situation gets more tense, suspicions run high, as everyone is desperate to find a way to stop the abductions. The movie expertly plays with audience expectations, subverting them in ways that are clever and well laid out by a directorial bread crumb trail. Watching the mystery unfold is a treat and the movie will keep you on edge up till the very end.

If you’re familiar with Indian politics,the country’s social setting, or grew up with family/close friends that filled your heads with stories about those things, the movie will stand out even more in how well it effectively utilizes both horror and comedy to critique gender roles, religious manipulation, and the discrepancy between the customs of different generations. By leading into these serious discussions with a comedic touch, the horrifying “lessons” ,so to say, both highlight the repercussions of actions that aren’t taken seriously today, while never coming off as too preachy. From urinating on the wall, to prostitution, to sex talks, the movie knows how to approach the broad variety of topics it wants to talk about with great care. Tonal balance is definitely here and the movie never loses focus on what it’s trying to do.

There’s more than one moment that reminded me of interactions I had in my youth, and I laughed at how genuine and real the dialogue sounded. This is obviously helped by the great performances from the leading cast members. Rao absolutely nails it as Vicky, a dopey, awkward, romantic with aspirations of moving out and ahead in life. He’s comical enough to laugh at, but not so comical to render the issues he goes through less serious. Kapoor captures the ambivalence of the mysterious woman to a T and constantly kept me guessing as to what really drove her. Every side character is interesting from Vicky’s father to the town’s resident bookkeeper. Even if you can’t keep track of all the names, they’re all written with a real humaneness so you care about them. I can still tell you exactly what each character was about, so that’s a credit to how fleshed out everyone comes off.

If you’re someone who likes Bollywood, you’ll be glad to know this movie manages to incorporate the flair and passion you normally get in an mainstream Indian movie, but ties it down into a wholly unique plot that demonstrates serious writing ingenuity. There’s even an item song that’s incorporated both as an injection of a fun vibrant energy and as a way to highlight the themes at play. Offering a unique story is hard enough but managing to do that while playing to convention is something else. Sound design is excellent and the music can be scary and exciting at the same time. By playing up the normal romcom ideas we expect to see and adding a supernatural twist to the background those affairs take place in, the movie manages to keep the audience constantly guessing what’s going to happen. There’s more than one moment that had me nervously laughing, both because of the comedic tension of the situation at play and the fear that something horrendous would happen.

Despite my glowing praise, there are some plot elements that stand out as being less developed than others. It makes sense given the breadth of what the movie is trying to do, but those little moments feel like they could’ve really cemented some of the themes. Thankfully, a sequel is due to come out , so I’m excited to see how this creative team will answer or develop these threads.

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TLDRStree is a one of a kind horror comedy that mixes traditional Bollywood elements with a one of a kind ghost story. If you’re familiar with India’s culture/social history, the movie really shines as a critique of some of the country’s most pressing issues. With the sequel coming out soon, there’s no better than than now to watch this masterpiece.
Rating9.5/10
Grade A+

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

Review: Gerald's Game

Director(s)Mike Flanagan
Principal CastCarla Gugino as Jessica
Chiara Aurelia as Young Jessica
Bruce Greenwood as Gerald
Henry Thomas as Tom
Kate Siegel as Sally
Carel Struycken as Moonlight Man
Release Date 2017
Language(s)English
Running Time103 minutes

I’ve said it before and I’ll say it again- Mike Flanagan is one of the best horror directors in the game right now and this adaptation is the some of the best proof. Gerald’s Game is one of the few King stories I’ve read so when I saw Flangan was directing, I was intrigued in seeing how he’d adapt the unconventional narrative style the story uses. Flanagan and Jeff Howard both deserve applause for synthesizing the ideas of the novel in a suspenseful and easy to digest way.

The story follows a couple, Gerald and Jessica, as they go off on a trip to rekindle the spark in their marriage. After handcuffing Jessica to the bed and downing a few viagra, Gerald tries to initiate some rape-play which Jessica finds too disturbing to continue anymore. After she rejects his advances, he dies suddenly of a heart attack and she finds herself trapped in an abandoned house, handcuffed to a bed, and completely alone. The initial build-up to all of this is handled with an great eye for detail. Issues that come to plague Jessica in her struggle to survive are set up early on, so subsequent reveals and twists feel sweet and satisfying.

The story primarily takes place through a series of conversations Jessica has with projections of her subconscious. Representations of herself, her late husband, traumatic memories of her family and the situation that they placed her in, and nightmare scenarios plague her as she attempts to make out what’s real and what’s relevant to keeping her alive. As Jessica struggles to survive, she’s forced to navigate her trauma and the way she’s attempted to handle it throughout her life. Her story goes to dark places and if is presented with the respect and seriousness it deserves. There are hard scenes to watch, but they’re never exploitative or voyeuristic. They exist to remind you of the uncomfortable truth, but aren’t visceral or provocative outside of that. The deplorable nature of the act is horrifying enough.

A lot of the movie rides on Carla Gugino’s performance. She’s the protagonist and has to play a women who goes through some heartbreaking and emotionally complex realizations about herself and the way she’s dealt with deep seated trauma. Watching the layers of herself slowly fade away to the core of who she is is amazing, and you can feel the intensity of her desire to get to heart of what ails her. Gugino also talks to herself for most of the movie, but breathes life into the conversation so you always feel like something’s going on. The entire movie is her talking to projections of her subconscious, one of the avatars being her subconcious personified as a clone of herself. She manages to be just as convincing talking to herself ( aka nothing in the room) as she does when she talks to Gerald. It’s a testament to how well she threw herself into the role.

I love this movie because I never thought it would be something that could be adapted (a fairly common sentiment). The way that the ideas and discussions are streamlined into easy to follow story-lines gives the movie a more complete and tight feeling. Rarely do I like a movie for than a book, but this is one of those rare exceptions. The adaptation gives Jessica far more agency, which is important because the heart of the movie is learning how to deal with trauma. More agency means more ability to introspectively act and engage in a more thorough catharsis. Her journey through her trauma is moving and never comes at the cost of the more exciting elements of the story. The hard to imagine gory scene from the novel makes its way here and is just as hard to watch. It all just comes to demonstrate how well the adaptation understood the source material and the strengths of a film over a book. It only takes what it needs and does its best to cover the sentiments of what it doesn’t directly copy over.

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TLDRGerald’s Game is one of the best King adaptations to date. It’s a touching tale about overcoming trauma and reclaiming agency. There are certainly visceral scares, but the real horror comes from understanding of the way we try and deal with our pain.
Rating9.5/10
Grade A+

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

Review: Evil Dead 2

Director(s)Sam Raimi
Principal CastBruce Campbell as Ash Williams
Denise Bixler as Linda
Sarah Berry as Annie Knowby
Release Date1987
Language(s)English
Running Time 84 minutes

If I’d have known how funny Evil Dead 2 was, I’m pretty sure I would’ve watched The Evil Dead a lot earlier. Somehow, Sam Raimi took everything good from the fist movie, removed the unnecessary clutter, slapped in some intriguing retcons, and amped the comedy up by a factor of bonker. The result is a one of a kind sequel that gives fans of the original everything they want and more , while feeling like its own story The scares are more interesting, the turns are completely out of left field, and the movie has a lot more fun with itself.

I knew the movie was going to be weird the moment the first scene started. The movie picks up on a “recap” of the events of the first movie, except this time everyone except Linda is missing. Missing as in Ash doesn’t even mention their existence.In his recounting, Ash explains that he went to the cabin for a romantic get-away with Linda (not the fun group bonding we were told in the first movie). Once there, a similar series of events lead to Dr.Knowby’s tape being played and the evil of the Necronomicon being summoned. Right off the bat, the movie forces the audience to come to its own conclusions. Did Ash experience so much trauma during the first movie, that his mind warped the perception of events to the most painful event he went through? Did burning the Necronomicon at the end of the first movie cause an alternative timeline where everyone else didn’t exist? It’s up to you to decide. After the”recap” concludes, Ash finds himself forced to once again deal with the hijinks of the cabin.

With each passing supernatural phenomena, Ash finds himself slipping, unable to differentiate between real events, his delusions, and the supernatural happenings. His experience and interaction with the world feels surreal. Ash is very clearly is experiencing some kind of trauma . Within the span of a day he’s lost his friends ( who may or may not exist), had to kill his girlfriend, been tossed around by supernatural happenings, experience a litany of physical injuries (many self inflicted through sheer clumsiness), and been incessantly mocked by deadlites. It’s enough to turn anyone bonkers, and Bruce Campbell proficiently demonstrates as much with his absurd and hilarious facial expressions. He constantly moves/messes with his eyes, eyebrows, and forehead making him feel unpredictable and energetic, like a switch has flipped in him that’s caused him to become a loose cannon. He really channels this raw chaotic neutral/good vibe that never slows down.

Ash’s (Bruce Campbell) crazy facial expression.

His descent into madness is equal parts terrifying and hilarious. This is a man who’s clearly lost control in his life. He didn’t sign up for any of this and awful things keep happening at breakneck speed forcing him to constantly fight for his life. Losing your mind on top of dealing with all of these issues sounds like hell, like an infinite void that will never let go. Thankfully, the whole experience comes off as a joke. As Ash loses his mind, he becomes more unhinged and cartoon like, going from a clumsy and sweet goof to bloodthirsty and confident. It’s not that the situations are any less serious. It’s just that the story lets you experience them without falling into some weird nihilism.

Everything you loved about the first movie look and feel wise is here and polished up. Fast paced camera chasing subject through the forest? Check. Chainsaw slashing through deadlite splattering blood everywhere? Check. Bruce Campbell’s eyebrows threatening to fight the enemy by themselves? Also check. The best part is all the effects have gotten even better and more polished. The practical effect work feels even smoother and works seamlessly. Possessions look more crisp and grounded as opposed to just nightmarish. My only issue is that ome of the stop-motion feels a bit choppy in the third act, but that’s a small complaint in the grand scheme of things.

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TLDREvil Dead 2 is honestly just one of those rare sequels that takes an winning formula and fine tunes it to near perfection. The comedic turn the franchise takes gives it a unique flavor and allows its horrifying elements to really shine. If you enjoyed the first movie and want to see more, check this out. It’s one of a kind.
Rating10/10
GradeA+

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

Review: The Evil Dead

Director(s)Sam Raimi
Principal CastBruce Campbell as Ash Williams
Ellen Sandweiss as Cheryl Williams
Hal Delrich as Scott
Betsy Baker as Linda
Theresa Tilly as Shelly
Release Date1981
Language(s)English
Running Time 85 minutes

This is one of the few western horror movies I grew up watching, so it’s near and dear to my heart. As a naive middle school student, I believed the reviews online that said it was cheesy and corny. The word funny was thrown around everywhere, so I went in thinking I’d be laughing a lot. After the movie, I was left horrified. Nightmares for days on end. Tons of high pitched cackling involved. I refused to go near it again. Then the soft reboot, Evil Dead, was announced. It looked scary and intriguing and I was immediately reminded of the terrors of my not so distant youth. I decided then and there, that I had to get over the movie eventually and immediately went and saw The Evil Dead. The movie still scared me, but because I knew what was going to happen, I could view the events with a certainty.I could sit back and just watch the madness unfold. Now that I’m done a few rewatches, I can confidently say Sam Raimi’s low budget horror movie is one of the best ever made. It manages to scare me, intrigue me, impress me, and make me chuckle a few times every time I put it on.

The plot is campy if you look at it from today’s standards but you should keep in mind the movie came out back in the 80’s and was considered one of the scariest back then. It was ahead of its time and dared to go to some awful, depraved places. The story follows a group of five teenage friends – Ash, his sister Cheryl, his girlfriend Linda, their friend Scott, and Scott’s girlfriend, ,Shelly – as they go off to a cabin in the woods to party and enjoy themselves. From the moment they step foot in the area, things are off. When Scott goes to open the door, a swing repeatedly knocks into the wall of the house, almost as if another entity is trying to enter. Once our group opens the door, the knocking stops creating a sense of impending doom. After a series of events leads to an incantation from the Necronomicon Ex-Mortis being chanted , things quickly go south as malevolent supernatural entities come to play.

The movie is very much a story of an unfortunate group of “kids” who are only partially to blame for their situation. They barely have time to do anything because the action st arts almost immediately, and the actions they do end up taking are heavily influenced by the supernatural. It’s almost like they’re doomed into a situation. This is made all the worse because the story takes time to develop the characters, so watching them get tortured is hard. It’s a few moments here and there, but character motivations are fleshed out and almost everyone feels like they have a purpose in the story. Yes, the story is mainly about Ash, but that doesn’t mean everyone else just exists as a prop. The story makes use of these relationships to create horrifying, gut-wrenching, and comedic moments.

It’s easy to tell there are production issues. Yes, Raimi didn’t have a ton of money to spend to make this look realistic. So he doubles down on the absurdity of the situation and makes the action and horror sequences bloody, over the top, and disturbing all at the same time. Makeup is on point. It gets bloody and really shows the damage the supernatural events are having on the group. As evidenced by below, it can get pretty real.

Makeup is on point. The Deadites look absolutely horrific.

Embracing the over the top gore makes the movie both horrifying and comedic. The production issues feel like intentional ways of showcasing the absurdity of whatever is going on. In the face of absolutely nightmarish situations it makes so much sense to laugh, because taking it seriously would make you go crazy (which is more Evil Dead 2). The humor doesn’t come from overt jokes. It comes from the juxtaposition of ineptitude with the horrific nature of what’s going on. Bruce Campbell goes full klutz as Ash. He finds a way to fall or crash in every scene, and puts his full energy into each and every tumble. You can feel the incompetence seep out of him. Add on some crazy facial expressions with his distinctive eyebrows, and suddenly every situation becomes a bit funnier. The spirits haunting the cabin also have a sick sense of humor. They love laughing in horrific sounding cackles and joking about everyone’s darkest fears. They actually relish just making people suffer. It’s funny in the moment, but every time I stop and think about the reality of what’s going on, I shudder. There’s a lot of messed up stuff here that I laughed at because taking it seriously was too off-putting. One scene involving Cheryl has stuck with me ever since I saw it. I have no idea how it got in there, but if sexual assault scenes that are visceral in nature are too much for you, you might want to watch it with a buddy.

To add on to all of the visual splatter and horror, the movie employs a lot of surreal/abstract imagery. There are recurring motifs that are fun to track throughout the movie that have you questioning their real purpose. These scenes are my favorite because I love that weird ambiguous artsy stuff that has you analyzing and re-contextualizing constantly. There are some more obvious symbols/icons that are also used to great effect, so the movie manages to balance the abstract with the “grounded” really well. It lends to a well crafted horror movie that has scares for multiple groups of people.

The camera movement is also exceptional and highly effective. Raimi knows exactly when to do close-ups and every time he does one it feels purposeful. No movement ever feels wasted. When the supernatural force is hunting down the members of the group, the camera moves frantically showing it choosing its next victim. It’s almost like the air and everything around the cabin is tinged with a negativity that seeks to envelop everything.

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TLDRThe Evil Dead is a movie that manages to be hilariously over-the-top and horrifying at the same time. The humor is dark and absurd in nature and is used to counterbalance the violence and splatter-fests the movie ventures off into. If you can get over the “dated” feel and/or watch the movie as if it’s 1981, you’ll get swept up in one of the scariest horror movies made. A surreal nightmare turned black comedy.
Rating9.8/10
GradeA+

I’m writing something more involved about this piece, so I’ll save the spoiler thoughts for that.

Review: Little Women (2019)

Director(s)Greta Gerwig
Principal CastSaoirse Ronan as Jo March
Florence Pugh as Amy March
Emma Watson as Meg March
Eliza Scanlen as Beth March
Laura Dern as Marmee March
Timothee Chalamet as Laurie
Release Date2019
Language(s)English
Running Time 135 minutes

That settles that. I’m watching Ladybird as soon as I can. After having experienced the feel-good delight that is Little Women, I’m more than excited to watch more Gerwig and am super excited for whatever she does next. I came into this movie as someone who has not read the original book or seen any other adaptation (I want to read the book now and then watch the movie again to see how it fared as an adaptation) . I only decided to see it because it was nominated for best picture and I’m glad I did.

The story is a coming-of-age story that follows the women of the March family, four daughters and their mother, Marmee, who are forced to maintain the household as their father is out fighting in the Civil War. Every single daughter is driven and has their own set of passions. Meg, the eldest, has acting aspirations. Jo, the second oldest, wants to be a author and writes stories to get money. Amy, next in line, is more spoiled and wants to be an artist. Beth, the youngest, loves music and wants to be happy with her family. The movie cuts between this past and the present (set a few years later) seamlessly, juxtaposing each of the girls idealistic younger selves with their more worn and mature selves. It creates an expectation because you know what’s going to come, but also a sense of mystery because you want to see how we go from point A to B.

This sense of mystery keeps the movie fresh from a storytelling perspective and happens seamlessly in the background, without you realizing it. I knew that we were going back and forth, but I was never focused on it. My brain just automatically accepted it. Editing and scene placement is on point and it creates a piece that seems to reveal information at precisely the right time. There are meta-narrative moments that are placed perfectly in the third act and allow for a lot of interesting interpretative leeway (I’m assuming on purpose) that I can’t help but admire, especially after reading about the movie and the stories original writer, Louisa May Alcott. Every thread comes together at precisely the right time and it makes the whole experience an emotionally satisfying roller-coaster. I would go from feeling sad, to feeling hopeful , to laughing, to tearing up, to feeling inspired, to some combination of any of these, and all the feelings in between and I never once felt any kind of tonal whiplash. The only issue I felt was ,because there’s no clear passage of time, certain character decisions in the latter portions of the movie feel rushed given the the gravity of what they are. It’s a fleeting issue that didn’t bother me too much in the moment, but after finishing the movie I did feel like some of the later portions of the movie feel less earned.

Acting, characterization, and dialogue are almost always impeccable. Every conversation feels real because each actor/actress nails their motivations from their cadence to their body language. It’s hard to praise any performance in particular because all of them, especially each of the titular “Little Women” completely feels in the moment. Saying that, I have to be honest on how impressed I was with Florence Pugh. I already thought she was amazing in Midsommar being able to portray grief and anguish in an very visceral way. After this, I’m in awe of her acting range. She gives Amy a real brattiness and sense of indulgence in the earlier timeline and projects a lot of maturity and pragmatism in the latter timeline. It’s a surprising blend that had me rooting for her character, in spite of the kind of horrendous things her character does.

The movie is packed to the brim with tons of relatable themes. Despite having a particularly feminist flair, the movie is for everyone. It’s not trying to exclude or ostracize. It never comes off as preachy. The ways that it critiques gender roles, women’s treatment in society, and the functions of marriage are all relevant and presented fairly and naturally. I thought the discourse on marriage as a communion predicated on love versus social ladder was made even more interesting by placing it in front of a discussion of a woman’s agency. If that’s not your groove, the movie tackles common issues we’ve all gone through- being nervous of pursuing our dreams, thinking we’re not good enough, balancing dreams with financial concerns, and trying to find love in a world that often times alienates us. There’s something in here for everyone.

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TLDRLittle Women is the feel good movie of 2019. The March family’s coming-of-age story has something for everyone and will have you laughing,crying,smirking, and glued to the screen the whole time. A fun time for the whole family with a ton of messages to boot.
Rating9.7/10
Grade A+

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!

Review: The Conjuring 2

Director(s)James Wan
Principal CastVera Farmiga as Lorraine Warren
Patrick Wilson as Ed Warren
Madison Wolfe as Janet Hodgson
Frances O’Connor as Peggy Hodgson
Release Date2016
Language(s)English
Running Time 134 minutes

Wow. When I first saw this movie, I couldn’t believe it. The Conjuring is one of the best mainstream horror movies of the past decade. As someone who’s tried desperately to get friends into stuff like Midsommar or Tag and failed, I have a special place in my heart for The Conjuring being one of the few movies I can put on when I’m in a more general audience and get everyone engaged in the horror to come. Wan has managed to replicate that same general acceptability in his sequel, The Conjuring 2, while fixing and improving the way the characters and scares progress to create a more coherent and unique story. This sequel is scarier, more unique, and leaves an impression far after viewing it.

The story follows the Warrens as they fly across to Britain to help resolve malevolent spiritual activity at the Hodgson residence. Everything from the way they get there ,to the way the haunting unravels, gives the movie a profound identity improvement compared to the first movie. The movie spends time giving the audience a view into the Hodgson’s style of life and really spends time developing our relationship with the girl at the center of all the spiritual activity, Janet. Wan goes to great lengths to show us the “life” sources for the family, the aspects of their everyday existence that they cling to to help them out in their dreary moments. Horrifying sequences become elevated because of their relation and attempted destruction of these sources. It’s what makes the scares in this movie distinct and fresh, as opposed to just well executed and predictable.

The “real event” status of the Enfield poltergeist is also treat with a healthy amount of respect. During the investigation, the Warrens try to find evidence of the haunting so that they can proceed with some kind of intervention. However, these attempts are always presented in a way to create skepticism. The movie makes use of the media frenzy that was happening during the haunting to inject a source of skepticism to counterbalance every one of the families claims. When characters doubt the veracity of Janet’s claims it’s understandable how they would be skeptical, so there’s no face-palm moment where you bemoan at how thick the characters are. It puts the audience in the strange position of being that person who claims to see the ghost but never has anyone believe in them. I’ve never quite rooted for a ghost to haunt a family even more, so said family could receive proper assistance, but this movie changed all of that.

I love how much the Warrens get developed in this movie. They’re some of the best fleshed horror protagonist and Wan manages to expand their characters without resorting to desperate gimmicks or contradicting their past depiction. The movie really hammers in how much Ed and Lorraine care (which is obviously helped by how much Wilson and Farmiga throw themselves into the roll, fully committing themselves to the supernatural phenomena at hand) about the people they help. I’ve heard people bemoan or chastise certain scenes in this movie as being “too cheesy” , but I heartily disagree. A lot of these moments are pivotal in demonstrating how adept the Warrens are at reading the groups they help and figuring out the most pragmatic way to assist them. It’s not just ghouls and ghosts that need dealing with. Sometimes, the most important thing you can do is help people feel like life still has good moments in store.

All the scares in this movie are just as good at getting you to jump in your seat, but this time they’re distinctive and memorable. There are sequences I’ve never seen in a horror movie before, and Wan somehow manages to make the haunting an creature feature of sorts without ever compromising the integrity of the rest of the story. Yes, there are some typical scares you’ll see coming from a mile away, but it’s how the movie manages make those scares relevant to the family at hand that makes them feel crisp.

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TLDRThe Conjuring 2 manages to somehow be even better than its predecessor. It takes all the best elements of the past movie and breathes a unique identity into them to help them stand out more. This is a supernatural family haunting story with real heart and distinctive scares. If you liked the first one, but thought it was a bit too generic, you’ll definitely appreciate how this one changes the formula.
Rating9.5/10
GradeA+

I’m writing something more involved about this piece, so I’ll save the spoiler thoughts for that.

Review: The Eyes of My Mother

Director(s)Nicolas Pesce
Principal CastKika Magalhaes as Francisca
Olivia Bond as Young Francisca
Paul Nazak as Father
Will Brill as Charlie
Diana Agostini as Mother
Release Date2016
Language(s)English, Portuguese
Running Time 77 minutes

It’s still hard for me to believe that the person who wrote and directed this also co-wrote and directed The Grudge , but after re-watching this movie I’m willing to chalk it up to an anomaly (I’ll re-watch Piercing to be sure.) This black and white horror movie is short, sweet, and to the point. It depicts a young girl, Francisca, undergoing a horrifying life changing event which triggers a psychotic break. What follows is her attempt at creating a new locus of meaning.

The plot progress through a series of chapters, each chronicling a different developmental stage of Francisca’s life. The first chapter looks at the traumatic event that causes our lead to experience a break with reality. She experiences a profound sense of alienation within herself and with the world around her, almost as if the anchor between her and the social world had been severed. As a result, she desperately looks for a replacement – either for the anchor or a replacement for the feeling the anchor provided. Most actions she ends up taking can be traced back to some earlier characteristic or moment from the movie, so the progression feels earned as opposed to just grandiose for the sake of being provocative.

Bond and Magalhaes do an amazing job as Francisca. The former portrays the slip into psychosis with natural ease like she genuinely has a different interpretation of the rules of the world. It’s disturbing at how childlike she comes off as she performs some haunting actions. The latter actress turns everything up a notch, so when things get even more demented it still all feels believable. She’s somehow “innocent” and shy, but the twists in her psyche are ever-present in everything from her actions to her dialogue. It’s like watching someone who exists in their own little world that only tangentially borrows with and interacts with our own.

The story is disturbing without being a spectacle in end of itself. Grotesque depictions of violence never happen. Instead, they’re hinted at through clever camera movement and cuts. We don’t see it happen, but imagining the brutality of events gives the movie a more transcendent sense of horror. If you’re not someone who likes to imagine the terrifying sequences the movie might not do it for you. It’s tasteful in its execution of the macabre, which gives it a clinical feeling. That juxtaposed against the sheer absurdity of Francisca’s life and actions keeps the movie feeling nauseating. You can feel the wrongness seep underneath your skin.

This is complimented by the black-and-white color palette. It gives the movie a timeless feel and accentuates its feeling as a clinical study of an analysand experiencing psychosis. It also doesn’t feel like a film-student gimmick. It’s purposeful in how it thematically reinforces the above and beautiful in the way its utilized to create stunning dynamic shots. There’s more than one slow pan across a room that reveals something unnerving made even worse by Francisca’s almost nonchalant interaction with the same. The lack of color and dynamic presentation forces you to pay attention to the disturbing visual as opposed to escaping in something more pleasant.

My only issue with the movie is how the third act /chapter progresses. Certain sequences occur that don’t match up with previous sequences from the other chapters. I didn’t care much about those issues in the moment, but looking back it’s really strange how the events of the story culminate into the climax. I don’t think it betrays the themes of the movie or its analysis of alienation and psychosis , and it definitely leaves an impact on you. It just feels like the earlier portions of it should have never happened from a “logical” standpoint.

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TLDRThe Eyes of My Mother works as a perverse clinical analysis of alienation and psychosis. It’s dark and oozing with a macabre absurdism that permeates its leads every action. There are disturbing scenes, but most of the horror works on the level of imagination and grappling with the decisions the movie makes. If you have an open mind, or like chilling psychological horror movies that focus on the act as opposed to the spectacle make sure to watch this. At 77 minutes only, it’s not like you have a lot to lose.
Rating9.7/10
Grade A+

Go to Page 2 for my spoiler-full thoughts!