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.
Editing: Matthew C. Hart
Music: Keegan DeWitt
Cast: Stefanie Scott, Isabelle Fuhrman, Daniel Pearce, Philip Hoffman, Matthew Stannah, Sebastian Beacon, Judith Roberts, Michael Laurence, Tommy Buck, Rory Culkin
Directors: Edoardo Vitaletti
Writers: Edoardo Vitaletti
Cinematography: David Kruta
‘Elevated Horror’ is a dumb genre name, but The Last Thing Mary Saw is a film looking to be classed as such. The problem is that the film and its director and writer, Edoardo Vitaletti, seem more interested in chasing a feeling in a bottle than making a film with interesting characters. If you want to make films like Ari Aster or Robert Eggers, you have to understand that they never set out to make ‘Elevated Horror,’ instead, they focus on characters and themes to great success.
Set in the mid-1800s, The Last Thing Mary Saw focuses on Mary (Stephanie Scott) and her forbidden relationship with housemaid Eleanor (Isabelle Fuhrman). The film is very straightforward in that it looks at the dire and disgusting way queer people were (and still can be) treated by religious zealots. It’s a story that’s been featured a lot in recent films and TV, but the way it’s told in The Last Thing Mary Saw is so dull and uneventful that it makes the barely 90-minute movie hard to finish.
The films core problem is that the romance is so utterly unbelievable that I failed to care or understand how these two characters became or are in love with one another. The film told me they were in love, but Stefanie Scott and Isabelle Fuhrman share no chemistry on screen, and the script doesn’t help at all. Giving them some tender moments or character progression of any sort at all would have gone a long way. But I hated watching these characters, maybe not as much as the family oppressing them, but I certainly didn’t care for them as much as, I’m sure, the director would have liked me to have.
There isn’t much thematically going on here beyond the fundamental idea that same-sex relationships used to be treated as devil worship, and those people were treated terribly. You’ll see punishments in the form of slight tortures several times over, like having one of the girls spend days kneeling on uncooked rice. But the film thinks it’s a lot smarter than it is; characters monologues about life and scripture and big titles for each of the film’s chapters splashed on-screen.