January 25th, 2022
MOVIE: THE LAST THING MARY SAW
STARRING: STEFANIE SCOTT, ISABELLE FUHRMAN, RORY CULKIN
DIRECTED BY: EDOARDO VITALETTI
AMovieGuy.com’s RATING: 3 STARS (Out of 4)
The eyes are the window to the soul. It’s a phrase that I wholeheartedly believe in, where the things we see are sucked in and then define us, starting the process of a person to soak up information. The Last Thing Mary Saw begins with the main character’s eyes poked out, bleeding behind a blindfold, and reciting to investigators what has happened to her parents. We then go back to before, eyes intact, and the events leading up to this moment. Edoardo Vitaletti has a knack for setting the mood, in his dark folk horror film, about two women in 1843 having a secret romance, and the dark forces fighting to be awakened inside a powerful believer. The Last Thing Mary Saw is an often unsettling horror movie that you will need to see with your own eyes.
Mary (Stefanie Scott) is the oldest child of her family, her mother Agnes (Carolyn McCormick) and father Randolph (Michael Laurence) often pushing their ways of living to her, while younger brother Matthew (Elijah Rayman) tends to be the curious type. The matriarch of the family (Judith Roberts) is looked to for guidance, the devout leader, stating that following the lord will lead to salvation, and foisting a shadow of darkness on the family. The maid of the household is Eleanor (Isabelle Fuhrman), prepping meals, and taking care of the family needs, but also the secret lover of Mary. Their passion for one another pushes against the strict beliefs of the family and we see that any push back from Mary or Eleanor has them forced to kneel on rice and recite passages from the bible. The conflict becomes a matter of giving in to forced beliefs or giving in to passion. But those forces of good and evil are also creeping their way in, revealing that in this house there is a power lurking inside.
On a narrative level, The Last Thing Mary Saw is a slow burn, a story that unfolds with each moment, revealing a bit more details to what we just saw. What writer and director Vitaletti has done well is setting the mood early, with illuminating dark rooms lit with candles, and an authentic setting that sends us back in time. It’s reminiscent of movies such as The Witch, The Blackcoat’s Daughter, and even the dynamics we see in Benedetta, about two women falling in love, where the powers of forced religion, and passionate love create a tension that was already there from the potential of a scare.
On top of the positive production side, Vitaletti has cast two excellent performances from Stefanie Scott and Isabelle Fuhrman, both playing characters on opposite sides, one woman on the side of rule from her parents, and the other character observing from the side of taking care of the family. As the story progresses a series of events occur, including a visit from a drifter (played by Rory Culkin), who forces both women to give into his demands in hopes to continue to hide their relationship. This forces Mary and Eleanor to spend time together in a shed in the back, but when something occurs, resulting in the death of their grandmother, the investigation begins to open if Mary’s “sinful” urges or something else has caused her to be possessed by evil forces.
Movies like The Last Thing Mary Saw are always delightful surprises and the kind of horror movie that has you return to the genre. It has themes that always work at giving me goosebumps, from family dogma, a haunting presence in rooms, and the terror that exists in a folk horror setting. If the purpose of The Last Thing Mary Saw was to leave you unsettled and cement images of hands turning black, eyes poked out, or mysterious shadows in a room, then director Edoardo Vitaletti succeeds in every aspect of his work. No matter what, you can’t forget The Last Thing Mary Saw once you see it.
THE LAST THING MARY SAW IS NOW PLAYING ON SHUDDER
Written by: Leo Brady