Southold, New York, the unkind winter of 1843, an apparently quiet and observant village where outrage has been heaped upon offence behind closed doors, the discovery of abomination living in the very heart of the household, warming itself by the fire and finding forbidden pleasure in the night when the candles burn low, daughter Mary found in the arms of the housemaid Eleanor.
Correction was attempted, simple but necessary punishments of pain to flush the devil out of them, forced separation of the sinners, but the roots of evil are deep and find ways to express themselves, in passion, in anger, in desperation, in revenge, and Mary is arrested and interrogated by the local constable who challenges her, Mary calmly parrying with wisdom as she testifies for her life.
Written and directed by Edoardo Vitaletti, his feature debut, The Last Thing Mary Saw is a cautionary tale of Biblical wrath and vengeance told through the eyes of the repressed, voices soft but accusing without hint of forgiveness or charity, a woodcut come to life carrying with it the scent of sap, the pinprick of splinters and stained with the blood of the innocent wronged.
Starring Insidious’ Stefanie Scott and Down a Dark Hall’s Isabelle Fuhrman as Mary and Eleanor, Michael Laurence and Carolyn McCormick are Mary’s parents Randolph and Agnes, pious and puritanical but blinded in their devotion and adherence to scripture, turning to the grand matriarch of their clan (Eraserhead’s formidable Judith Roberts) for guidance in their spiritual troubles.
Lying somewhere between The Crucible and The Witch in terms of setting and theme, tinged with a supernatural dread, The Last Thing Mary Saw is a horror set in the real world, where people are property and women are breeding stock, making inhuman treatment easy for those who wield the power of the rod, attempting to pluck the root of evil in their house and only cursing themselves further.
Intelligently written, beautifully crafted by Vitaletti, cinematographer David Kruta and composer Keegan DeWitt, impeccably acted by the entire ensemble, The Last Thing Mary Saw is a tragedy of silence, stillness and menace played in shadows and corners, wearing the black clothes of mourning as the heavenly creatures are betrayed and the rot infects the family root to tip, lives upended and thrown into darkness.
The Last Thing Mary Saw will be available on Shudder from 20th January