The Last Thing Mary Saw
Sometimes, the scariest things are the things we keep quiet about. And you'll learn that lesson quickly after finishing writer/director Edoardo Vitaletti's new film THE LAST THING MARY SAW. This story of forbidden love in 1800s New York and the things it drives people to do is a quiet and slow burn film that takes baby steps for the majority of its runtime, until those baby steps turn into leaps of haunting - yet every so still - drama. It's a seriously gorgeous film, where most of each scenes light source seemingly being either candles or natural sunlight, which sincerely helps to set this calming yet somehow uncomfortable mood for the movie that remains the entire time. While I'm not sure if people will consider this movie a folk horror, it has that exact same feeling of natural tranquility that is somehow matched with this muted panic that just seems to slowly build over time, until it just cannot be contained any longer. If that sounds like something that interests you, look no further than the newly released film by Vitaletti which stars Stefanie Scott and Isabelle Fuhrman passionately alongside each other. If you go into The Last Thing Mary Saw knowing it isn't going to burst with excitement and show, I think you'll be pleasantly surprised and content with how dark, sinister, evil and haunting this little tale can be - and it will leave the room quiet as mouse when it ends.
Southold, New York. 1843. A young Puritan girl named Mary (played by Stefanie Scott) falls in love with the hired maid Eleanor (played by Isabelle Fuhrman) who lives on the family's property, tending to their every need. The strict, hardcore religious family can tell that the two girls are yearning for each other simply by the way they look at each other, so they attempt to use their faith in God to force them apart and away from their homosexual tendencies. By forcing the girls to pray on their knees, kneeling on a bed of rice and reciting their prayers in an attempt to repent for their feelings towards each other, the family hopes it will be enough to allow Eleanor to continue to work for the family since she is a good worker. Long story short, not even God can kill the feelings of love between the two young women, and they secretly continue to meet and maybe even fall for each other even harder, until their passion overtakes them and they conjure up a plan that, in their mind, will let them love each other forever. All of this being a retelling of the story from Mary's perspective, as she sits for interrogation by her community after her family's matriarch is found dead and Mary's eyes gouged out (which may sound like a spoiler, but it's not!). What other secrets does this family have that they've suppressed to appease their God? What other unspeakable horrors occurred in that Long Island household? Find out in... THE LAST THING MARY SAW!
This movie may be lit by natural lighting, but it's got a dark, sinister story that is backed by homophobia, religion, and secrecy - an absolutely terrifying combination of traits. The audiences' interaction with the rest of the family besides Mary is very minimal, but what you do experience is shocking, disturbing, and downright dreadful - and it makes for one hell of a film. The beautifully shot film definitely moves at a slow place, and it's the perfect pace for letting the tension between the girls in love and the rest of the super religious family fester. There's one or two scenes that will definitely leaving you thinking "what the fuck" but don't expect gore or blood; like most folk horror films, the terror isn't in the effects, but in the storytelling. Scott and Fuhrman are both seriously phenomenal actresses who use everything from their tone to their face to their subtle movements to share the unrest they feel as well as the passion for each other... which all leads up to the films gratifying ending. And having Rory Culkin make his absolutely sinister appearance in the film only enhances the movies depravity and it's amazing. It's easy - with simple and bare films like this one - to give away too much about the movie just because there's not a whole lot of meat to it, so I'm trying to lightly tread these waters and just say that this film is a shocker and will leave a nice, subtle twist on your day. If you are a fan of films like The Lighthouse or The VVitch, then I think The Last Thing Mary Saw would be an excellent story for you to get sucked into for an hour and a half. It's got this really ominous feeling about the whole thing, and the family's obsession with religion, punishment, and repentance will definitely leave you shook at times. Let this eerie film into your watchlist this weekend and I'm fairly certain you'll walk away with some enjoyment from some excellent storytelling and some twisted folks.