"The Last Thing Mary Saw utilises the latest trend in horror"
THE LAST THING MARY SAW (2022)
THE "IMDB" PREMISE:
"Winter, 1843. A young woman is under investigation following the mysterious death of her family's matriarch. Her recollection of the events sheds new light on the ageless forces behind the tragedy."
OUR [TO THE POINT] REVIEW:
In the cold of a New York winter during the year of 1843, a young woman named Mary (Stefanie Scott) is accused of killing her grandmother, the matriarch to her incredibly religious family. A family who believe they are in direct communication with God, living out his will on Earth.
Mysteriously blindfolded during her interrogation by law enforcement, blood trickles down from the bottom of Mary’s covered eyes while revelations of Mary’s relationship with the house maid, Eleanor (Isabelle Fuhrman) cause her family to denounce her, stating their relationship is a sin and the cause of evil working within Mary, perhaps the same evil that may have cause her to kill her grandmother.
Broken into multiple chapters, The Last Thing Mary Saw utilises the latest trend in horror, a suspense-filled, slow-burn folk tale where religion and forbidden sin lies at the core of the story. The debut feature of writer and director, Edoardo Vitaletti, showcases his ability to create a tension-filled atmosphere that both aesthetically and thematically fits easily with the ‘folk-lore’ horror genre. Vitaletti’s scripts focus on characters over scares, using the more real-life horror of religious damnation to build up the tension between Mary and her family, rather than jump scares or over-the-top thrills. And while the film occasionally dabbles the potential of supernatural forces at play, it’s not prolific enough to have an overwhelming effect on the narrative until much later on in the story. On a visual level, Vitaletti’s direction is on par with many of these darkly lit, sharply lens shot films we see today. The cinematography is crisp and captures the dreadful vibe of this small, wintery New York village.
The film's focus on the relationship between Mary and Eleanor is driven by the chemistry between Scott and Fuhrman, who both give standout performances. Their forbidden love captures an essence of desire that conflicts with the strict morality of everyone around them very well. Relying on this tension between characters sets a slower pace for the 40 minutes or so of the film, until the late arrival of a character known simply as ‘The Intruder’ (Rory Culkin) arrives, and sets the trajectory of events down a more sadistic and darker path than initially expected.
The Last Thing Mary Saw follows the formula of ‘folk-lore’ horror closely. The visuals, aesthetic and tone all fit the mould that’s been created by films before, such as The Witch. And while it can feel a touch unoriginal, the focus on well constructed characters that are performed well by the cast does find this film to be a worthwhile watch for fans of the genre.