There was a period into the film I felt frustrated, because I wasn’t sure how it was going to work. It felt like there was a lack of imagination here, but somehow director Vincent Grashaw turned a slow moving, dark gothic horror film into something truly impactful, and it paid off in the end.
A STORY ABOUT FAMILY TRAUMA
The film is divided into chapters, each of which are telling the tragic past lives of the crippled Graham family, which continues to live on. In chapter one we meet Josiah, (Robert Patrick), the terrifying patriarch, and Tommy (Scott Haze), the youngest son who still lives in the family home. In the second and third chapters, we learn about Eli (Nick Stahl) and Mary (Kelli Garner) who have not been in touch, until a letter of interest in purchasing the farm is sent to each family member, bringing them together.
From the second the film begins, it has a very uneasy feeling, even when things are not exactly clear as to what is going on. One night, Josiah has a horrifying vision, which he proceeds to tell Tommy – the family needs to make up for the sins of their past. Josiah feeding Tommy’s mind with this gives the audience a very odd, but inviting opening to the film. We are introduced to a group of buyers buying up property in the area who are warned there is no way the family would sell, and they wouldn’t want it anyways. It is said that the property is haunted by the ghost of Josiah’s wife, who hung herself by a tree on the farm.
Cut to the second chapter, we see Eli forced into stealing gold from a group of Romani people at a nearby carnival. The mood shifts drastically compared to what we saw with Josiah and Tommy. The film evolves from a supernatural gothic horror to a Tarantino film, but Grashaw manages to keep you engaged and keeps all pieces together well. This deft control continues into chapter three, where we met the traumatized final Graham child, Mary, who has been trying to adopt a child with her husband, Ross Milner (Tony Hale). It is when she decides to reunite with her siblings that things begin to get really peculiar.
What Josiah Saw is a really strange film that seems to jump between different genres, but still holds you in this very unsettling story between the chapters before ultimately tying them all together. This is a very discomforting movie, and it uses every possible way to do that. The film’s score, done by Robert Pycior, does an incredible job building tension, cutting through a scene.
Not wanting to give too much away, but there are some downright terrifying moments, both shot and performed incredibly well. The story does seem to have some awkwardness in some areas, and I felt the script by Robert Alan Dilts could have used some more attention. There is definitely a bizarre thing going on with this family, and with the pacing of the film in the beginning some audiences might lose interest, but it was still well worth the ride and kept me very engaged. The film does a great job of breathing a new life into the psychological horror genre, but also provides a little taste of the supernatural genre as well.
In the beginning, I was unsure if the film was going to work, but as it went on I found myself wanting more. It was a strange, horrifying, and engaging story, and the more I watched the more it held me to the edge of my seat. I went in having never heard of Vincent Grashaw, and I came out excited to see what this filmmaker does next.
What Josiah Saw is now available to stream on Shudder, and check out the trailer below.
'What Josiah Saw' is a slow moving, dark gothic horror film that turns into something truly impactful, and it paysoff in the end
It all started when I was a kid watching Saturday morning cartoons like the Spider-Man: Animated Series and Batman. Since then I’ve been hooked to the world of pop culture. Huge movie lover from French New Wave, to the latest blockbusters, I love them all. Huge Star Wars and Marvel geek. When I’m free from typing away at my computer, you can usually catch me watching a good flick or reading the next best comic. Come geek out with me on Twitter @somedudecody.