Review by Camden Ferrell
The Last Thing Mary Saw is a new horror film that had its premiere last year at the Fantasia International Film Festival. The movie is also the feature debut of writer and director Edoardo Vitaletti. The film is sufficiently atmospheric and has some well-composed shots, but as a whole it doesn’t always succeed in exploring its themes and maintaining audience interest through its slow pace.
In a small town of New York in 1843, Mary is being raised in a strict religious household. Her only moments of brief happiness are when she is with the family’s maid, Eleanor. She attempts to carry on this relationship surreptitiously, but we soon learn someone’s always watching and nothing is as it seems. This is a great premise that has the potential to make the most of its setting to convey its themes properly and eloquently.
From the start, the film’s atmosphere immediately stands out as its defining trait. The movie is lit and shot very well, and it’s able to create a subtly sinister ambiance that heavily works in the film’s favor. This is one of the first major features on which David Kruta has served as cinematographer, but if there’s anyone to remember going forward, it’s him.
The acting is also mostly above average. The film is led by Stefanie Scott who is a strong actress and is mostly able to adopt this 19th century character well. Isabelle Fuhrman co-stars as Eleanor and while she doesn’t deliver a great performance by her own standards, it’s still mostly enjoyable and features good chemistry with Scott. Rory Culkin is also featured in this movie in a creepy turn as The Intruder, but it would have been nice to see more of him throughout.
The main flaw of the movie is its sluggish pace and execution. There are a lot of great ideas in its premise, but the script doesn’t explore the themes and implications as well as it could have. It has a lot to say, but much of it seems to get lost in translation. In addition to this, the film’s slow burn isn’t executed in a way that increases the suspense or intrigue of the feature and mostly succeeds in losing the viewer’s attention.
The Last Thing Mary Saw has some great atmosphere and an interesting premise, but it fails to deliver any thrills or worthwhile messages. It has all the parts needed for a great movie, but unfortunately, it didn’t fully deliver on its premise.
The Last Thing Mary Saw is streaming on Shudder January 20.