Advance Review: Premiered last week at Fantasia 2021!
THE LAST THING MARY SAW (2021)
Directed and written by Edoardo Vitaletti.
Starring Stefanie Scott, Isabelle Fuhrman, Rory Culkin, Judith Roberts, Carolyn McCormick, Shane Coffey, Michael Laurence, Dawn McGee, P.J. Sosko, Daniel Pearce, Tommy Buck, Elijah Rayman, Stephen Lee Anderson
You know, there are films I can watch and digest and process and sort of forget about and then there are ones that you just can’t shake that end up haunting you for days after. The latter is the type of film THE LAST THING MARY SAW is. It’s a movie that not only has an engaging story, but it’s also got The Orphan, Mary Shaw, and a Culkin in its cast. It’s premiere was last week at Fantasia 2021 and hopefully it will be available or the masses very soon.
Mary (INSIDIOUS 3’s Stefanie Scott) and her handmaid Eleanor (THE ORPHAN’s Isabelle Fuhrman) find themselves in the middle of a scandal when their feelings for one another are noticed by the devout Catholic family of a late 1800’s household they live under. Though they have been punished by the Matriarch of the family (DEAD SILENCE’s Judith Roberts), it seems nothing can keep the two apart as they meet in secret after the lights are out. But from their secret meetings sprouts an dark plot and even more foreboding signs that something truly evil permeates their home.
THE LAST THING MARY SAW sets itself up for a real challenge as it opens with Mary blindfolded with blood dripping from her face and standing in front of an interrogator and armed guards. We know something horrific has happened, but we don’t know what. Most of the time when a film opens with a flash forward in this way, it takes some of the suspense out of the story, as we know where the story will eventually end up. But filmmaker Edoardo Vitaletti achieves the impossible by continuously filling the story leading up to this interrogation with twists, turns, and all kinds of horrifying events. It kept me guessing all the way through and really does succeed in showing how its going to end, yet still managing to be surprising.
To be frank, this is just another story about a pair of lesbians whose love is forbidden in the age they live in. It’s the kind of story that has been made many times, especially lately in indie films. The story highlights how homosexuality is not accepted in some cultures, especially in the time this film is set. But what makes THE LAST THING MARY SAW so special is that it tells a simple and familiar story and sprinkles in all sorts of ominous imagery, quiet moments of terror, and horrifying events. While it is reminiscent of some of the Lizzy Borden adaptations, this is a film that will leave a profound mark after watching because of the sheer patience of pace and power of the imagery captured by first time feature writer/director Edoardo Vitaletti. While clocking in at just under an hour and a half, the film really does engulf the viewer in its complex and intwined story that feels like every moment is crucial in propelling it towards its end which is revealed at the beginning.
This is accomplished mainly because of the talent assembled to make THE LAST THING MARY SAW. Both Stefanie Scott and Isabelle Fuhrman are powerhouses here. It’s fascinating to see their passion transform into rage against their persecutors. While their actions with one another are looked at as blasphemy by the family, it’s their punishment that turn them into vengeful demons, yet the viewer is with them the whole way, seen the torment these two have been through, and still sympathize with them even when they do some absolutely horrifying ways. Judith Roberts, who scared the crap out of me as Mary Shaw in DEAD SILENCE, has an equally horrifying role here as the Matriarch. Her emotionless stares and cold demeanor make it hard to not fear and hate her and her actions made me shudder even more. Finally, Rory Culkin continues to pad his resume with bold and chilling performances as the Intruder who shows up late in the film, but his performance packs a powerful impact. All around, this is an odd, but stellar cast that elevates the familiar material greatly.
THE LAST THING MARY SAW is a wonderfully wicked little film. It’s reminiscent of films like THE VVITCH but possesses an unpredictable and downright dangerous narrative brought to life with transfixing imagery and a powerful cast. Be on the lookout for this one. When it’s released wide, I’ll definitely repost the review.