The Last Thing Mary Saw recently made its debut as part of 2021’s Fantasia, but it generated buzz even before the premiere when Shudder announced that it had acquired the film. It’s quite a feat for a first-time director to be picked up so quickly, and Edoardo Vitaletti should be pretty proud of himself.
Without a doubt, The Last Thing Mary Saw will draw comparisons to 2015’s The Witch; though the time periods are different (The Witch was set in the 1600s, and the newer film is set in 1843), the look and feel of each are very similar. Both films are shot in low lighting, often utilizing candles as the primary source. Both feature young women as the catalyst for the dark events to come.
The Witch is one of my favorite modern horror films, but those who were put off by the often hard-to-decipher dialogue will be happy to know that The Last Thing Mary Saw is easily understood without the aid of closed captioning. And let’s just get this out of the way: The Last Thing Mary Saw is definitely a slow burn.
The film opens with young Mary (Stefanie Scott of Insidious: Chapter 3) being questioned about the events that happened shortly after her grandmother’s death. Mary is blindfolded, and we can see blood has leaked from beneath the cloth tied around her eyes.
It seems that Mary’s puritanical family discovered that she was involved in a relationship with the household’s maid Eleanor (Orphan’s Isabelle Fuhrman), and believing such a relationship to be an abomination, punished both young women. Among other things, they were made to kneel on grains of uncooked rice for long periods of time while quoting scripture.
Mary and Eleanor continue their affair but are of course discovered, and the punishments continue, with the most severe one inflicted on Eleanor by the grandmother (who is super-creepy and evil-looking). When dear old grandma dies suddenly, strange things start to happen, culminating in the appearance of a mysterious stranger played by Rory Culkin (Scream 4).
The Last Thing Mary Saw is filled with ominous imagery
A corpse’s twitching finger, a small black book that seems to foretell the future, the stranger’s face, of which we can only see one eye (the rest of his face is covered with black cloth). And it definitely has the biggest strength a “slow burn” can possess; a sense of dread that grows as the events unfold.
The cast is rock solid, and Judith Roberts’ performance as the grandmother is chilling. I recognized her immediately as the actress who portrayed Jolene July in the NOS4A2 series (she was great in that too). Although this is not a fast-moving flick, it drew me in and had me on the edge of my seat, desperately wanting to know what was the last thing Mary saw.
Craig Engler, the general manager of Shudder said the streaming platform was “excited to bring Edoardo’s chilling and unique directorial debut to Shudder.”
For his part, director Vitaletti stated that it was “an honor” to be picked up by Shudder. There has been no announcement of the exact date, but The Last Thing Mary Saw is expected to join the Shudder lineup sometime in 2022.
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Did you watch The Last Thing Mary Saw as part of Fantasia’s virtual fest? Let us know what you thought about it in the comments section.