Director: Vincent Grashaw
Writer: Robert Alan Dilts
Starring: Robert Patrick, Nick Stahl, Scott Haze, Kelli Garner, Jake Weber, Tony Hale, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Dana Maerode, and Riley Kahn
What Josiah Saw is a horror thriller from director Vincent Grashaw and writer Robert Alan Dilts. It’s a slow-burn film about the past haunting a family who reconnect after two decades in order to decide the future of their property after a tempting offer is put forward to them. Josiah (Robert Patrick) is the father of three children, whose mother killer herself when they were still children.
The film is split into chapters, with time spent with each of the three children giving you an idea of who they are and then joining them together for the chilling finale. It feels almost like an anthology, with the stories almost seeming completely unrelated. Each chapter has its own arc, and it makes the whole film fly by at a quick pace. There’s never a moment that you’re waiting for it to end.
The first chapter introduces Tommy (Scott Haze) the youngest, and Josiah himself. They live in an isolated house, and Tommy is an outcast from society and also suffers verbal and mental abuse from his father. It’s a dark opening that sets the downbeat tone the rest of the film continues. The second chapter follows Eli (Nick Stahl) in a crime story that sees him at the centre of a story that feels like Stephen King meets Nightmare Alley. Then the third chapter follows Mary (Kelli Garner), who is living with her husband Ross (Tony Hale) and trying to adopt a child. All three of them are suffering with the trauma of their past, which is explored and revealed in the final sequence that brings them all together.
Robert Patrick is absolutely brilliant as Josiah, the father in the family. There are scenes between him and Thomas that are seriously disturbed and chilling. Josiah is a really sinister character, even before you know some of the family’s secrets, but he gets worse and worse as the story unfolds. The rest of the cast are fantastic as well with subtle and understated performances that add to the unsettling story.
While the film is a horror with plenty of chilling moments and a few jumpy moments, it’s not all-out-horror, with instead a building atmosphere throughout the story. It’s never scary but it does get under your skin. It also moves through over genres, with the second chapter being a crime thriller, and the third chapter starting as a drama. The writing and the characters are so strong that it all works. The ending is also fantastic, with an excellent twist and revelation. Everything all comes together in the end.
Overall, What Josiah Saw is a really great film. It’s very character-driven, where you really feel like you know them and that makes the finale that much better. A carefully crafted and suspenseful horror.
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