Review: Cold and Moody, 'The Last Thing Mary Saw' Lacks Vision

by Kevin Taft

EDGE Media Network Contributor

Thursday January 20, 2022

'The Last Thing Mary Saw'
'The Last Thing Mary Saw'  (Source:Shudder)

Rolling along with the new wave of folk horror films, "The Last Thing Mary Saw" is a moody, elegiac piece that looks terrific, but never quite hits the histrionic heights of some of its predecessors.

Taking place in New York in the 19th century, where religion rules the day, a young noblewoman named Eleanor (Isabelle Fuhrman) and her maid Mary (Stefanie Scott) begin a secret relationship after finding a story in a book about a same-sex attraction. As the small community around them begins to figure out their "evil" ways, they decide to send Mary somewhere else, but no one wants her — so, the two girls decide to escape their town so they can live together freely.

But all is not quite right in this small community, and as they are watched over by an unnerving matriarch (Judith Roberts) the girl's plans are foiled, and they must think of more desperate measures in order to flee.

While there is much to like about the atmosphere writer/director Edoardo Vitaletti has created, his story unfortunately matches the cold affect. We don't feel much for the two young women's relationship, and the strangeness of the matriarch and some of the other players never really gets the payoff it needs. Yes, there are supernatural elements here, but what and why is never fully explained.

There's also an eleventh-hour arrival by an intruder, played menacingly by Rory Culkin, that puts a pause on the women's escape plans. His sequence is terrific in its unease, but ultimately it feels like it occurs too late and stops the film cold.

This is too bad, because all the performances here are good; they just don't have enough to work with to make the audience sit up and take notice. Atmosphere is one thing, but a story and characters to really care about and intrigue us is what's lacking.

That said, Vitaletti has a lot of talent behind the camera, so hopefully this isn't the last thing we'll see from him.

"The Last Thing Mary Saw" premieres on Shudder January 20th.

Kevin Taft is a screenwriter/critic living in Los Angeles with an unnatural attachment to 'Star Wars' and the desire to be adopted by Steven Spielberg.

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