Nicolas Pesce made his directorial debut with the indie horror movie “The Eyes of My Mother,” a psychological thriller filmed in black-and-white. It's a sophisticated mix between an Alfred Hitchcock film and “Texas Chainsaw Massacre.”
“I wanted to make a movie about a character you don’t know if you want to love or hate,” Pesce said about the lead character, Francisca, played by Kika Magalhaes, at the Cantor Film Center in New York Thursday.
The 26-year-old director was inspired to make the creepy movie after success of “The Babadook” (2014), a film that relies on real horror instead of cheap thrills. Even though it hasn't debuted in theaters yet, “The Eyes of My Mother” garnered a 7.2 rating on the Internet Movie Database. The film’s description reads: “A young, lonely woman is consumed by her deepest and darkest desires after tragedy strikes her quiet country life.”
Despite there being multiple murders, there isn’t much gore. “It’s more about the audience scaring themselves,” the New York University graduate said. “The audience can be scared by whatever they think.”
Pesce wrote the script with Magalhaes in mind. He knew he wanted the family in the movie to have an immigrant background, and Magalhaes is Portuguese-American. “She’s other worldly and unique,” Pesce said about his leading lady. “There was something interesting and alien about the way she moves.”
In the film, Portuguese and English are spoken. Pesce said Magalhaes ad-libbed some of the lines and would tell him what she said after the scene ended. He doesn’t speak Portuguese and wrote the lines for her in English. “The Portuguese was improvised,” he said. “I would give her the gist of what I wanted her to say.”
“The Eyes of My Mother” was made on a budget of $250,000. They had few characters and only filmed at one spot, which is something that Pesce preferred. “I’m drawn to a contained set in that’s in one location,” the director said. “I like the minimalism and control [that happens on a smaller set.] I like when the location is a character.”
“The Eyes of My Mother” will premiere in theaters Dec. 2.
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