I Wrote my First Movie Review While Giving Birth to a Camera. It has followed me ever since. Please don't mind the Mess.
As of this writing it’s been a week since Scream’s (2022) release. You’re restless. You need something to watch. You don’t want to go to the theater again because you sat next to a guy and he coughed on you and now you don’t feel well.
So you stay home and watch the horror movie The Last Thing Mary Saw. Not only do you want horror, but you’re a giant fan of lesbian period dramas with all their corsets and braids and wind blowing their hair in their faces so as not to overtly display forbidden desires.
You want Carol and Portrait of a Lady on Fire and Ammonite…but with some frights and religious mania thrown in to boot.
Let this be the final review you read before you wear your favorite bonnet and look longingly at Laura Lee or Shauna or Natalie or Taissa or Lottie or Misty or Jackie.
Darkness and Bonnets, The Movie.
The Last Thing Mary Synopsized
The Last Thing Mary Saw opens with a promising young woman blindfolded. There’s blood dripping from under the folds so you know someone has some explaining to do.
You’ll find out eventually because the story will wrap around.
The blindfolded and most likely blind girl is named Mary (Stefanie Scott) and she’s had a doozy of a past couple of days. She’s being interrogated by old white bearded men and they have grave looks on their faces. They’re asking Mary what happened.
Mary will tell you and the movie really begins.
The year is 1843. It’s somewhere in New York. Possibly called Ye Olde Towne of Whiteys.
Mary is a young woman with a super religious family. They’re pretty uptight. They’re really into wacky religious tradition and wearing really tight clothes around their necks and waists.
Mary has a brother, a mother and father whose name you don’t really need to remember. There’s a guy who guards their farm and he has a pronounced limp (that’s a story in itself). It’s soon established that the Matriarch (Judith Roberts) is in charge of this family and she rules with an iron fist.
And yes, her name is really Matriarch.
Mary lives on the farm churning butter, milking cows, performing daily circumcisions on townsfolk, watching Lamb over and over even though it’s not very good. She’s thinking about cutting their cable bill and streaming exclusively because there’s just a lot more selection and reasonable prices. Since Mary is a horror fan she’s thinking of getting a subscription to Shudder.
But Mary can’t because her family is a bunch of f*cking religious nuts who make you kneel in rice as a form of punishment.
As an Asian person I can attest that kneeling in rice for hours at a time sucks.
I got an A- on a test.
Mary can live with kneeling in rice. Because at least she gets to spend time with her favorite mute maid Eleanor (Isabelle Fuhrman, the creepy kid/adult from Orphan all grown up for reals this time). Mary and Eleanor have taken a liking to each other in a way that other members of this creepy white family might find unnatural.
Mary and Eleanor don’t care. The heart wants what the heart wants.
The Matriarch sees what’s going on and she’s really upset, but not for reasons you might expect. It’s not long afterward that the Matriarch dies under very mysterious circumstances. Mary, Eleanor, and the rest of the Cracker Barrel Crew must be silent for the next 24 hours while they pretend to mourn the Matriarch’s death.
But then a mysterious stranger (Rory Culkin) knocks, and just when you thought this day couldn’t get any worse…
What Works With The Last Thing Mary Saw
- Writer/director Edoardo Vitaletti makes Last Thing a very slow burn, but more or less worth the watch because you do get a satisfying payoff. Reminiscent of 2020’s Gretel and Hansel. If you liked that movie featuring an elderly white woman, you will like this movie featuring an elderly white woman.
- At a mere 89 minutes, though there are slow sequences the movie’s never long enough to be boring.
- Remember 2007’s Dead Silence by James Wan? Judith Roberts played creepy Mary Shaw in that movie. In this movie Judith Roberts is pretty much playing the exact same character except instead of shoving her hand in everyone’s orifices like they were a doll, she manages to scare with minimal dialogue. She is the source of most of the movie’s best scares and gets the best line of dialogue. Judith Roberts might not be the last thing you see in this movie, but she’ll be the best thing you remember.
What Doesn’t Work With The Last Thing Mary Saw
- To reiterate, it is a slow burn. There aren’t a lot of cheap jump scares in the first two acts, but everything is set up well enough. If you’re looking for something to jolt you out of your seat, you might not want this to be the last thing you see.
The best lesbian period drama/horror movie of January. If you like bonnets and people baking bread, then let The Last Thing Mary Saw be the first thing you see after you read this.