SHUDDER EXCLUSIVE: What Josiah Saw (2021)

Internet movie criticism is filled with people rushing to champion subpar movies into something beyond what they are while well-made films like What Josiah Saw remain unchampioned.

Directed by Vincent Grashaw and written by Robert Alan Dilts, this Southern gothic is a dark journey into the pain within one family. As the Graham clan — Eli (Nick Stahl), Thomas (Scott Haze) and Mary (Kelli Garner), forever under the shadow of their father Josiah (Robert Patrick) reunite at their remote farmhouse, they must finally face up to the secrets and sins of the past.

In the first chapter, we meet Josiah and Thomas as they fight to keep the family farm from being bought out despite it being haunted by the ghost of Josiah’s wife who hung herself. Josiah ends this segment by, well no easy way to say it, but making his son masturbate his demons out in front of him before telling him that the family must reckon with their sins.

In the second part, Eli must pay a debt to a crime lord by being part of stealing gold from a gypsy-led carnival, which leads to a reading of his future that claims that he’ll die soon before all hell breaks loose. The tense moments in this are near-overwhelming.

Then, Mary and her husband Ross (a near-anonymous Tony Hale from Arrested Development) have a tense dinner part where their need to have children is discussed. She’s had a trauma in her past and had her tubes tied; now she wants a child. Or maybe her husband does. Or maybe they just think they do. It’s true horror, the most real of all.

You may wonder, “Where is the actual horrific horror?” I thought the very same thing until the final segment which brings the entire family together for the last time. As this film jumps from drama to crime to terror, it unites itself with a strong story and assured direction.

I was stunned by this movie and really want you to go in as unprepared for the ending as I was. That said, I want more people to be watching and experiencing this, a film I truly believe in.

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