Fear of the unknown mixed with religious fanaticism is often a recipe for disaster. In Shudder’s latest original movie, The Last Thing Mary Saw, we firsthand how out of control things can get. Featuring a strong cast with several recognizable faces to horror fans, The Last Thing Mary Saw takes a dramatic slowburn approach, with the tension just under the surface, ready to burst at any minute!
The movie opens with the titular Mary, portrayed by Stefanie Scott (Insidious: Chapter 3). She’s blindfolded, with blood running down her face as she recounts the sequence of events that led to this. After discovering a secret she and the maid, portrayed by Isabelle Furhman (Orphan), had hidden, they’re both subject to brutal punishment or “correction” in order to bring them back into the light.
Even her younger brother plays a role in bringing more punishment upon her, and she stresses to him that he has no idea just what he’s caused. But everything changes when a mysterious drifter arrives, portrayed by Rory Culkin (Scream 4, Signs) and all the tension finally gives way to tragedy (and that’s all we can say without giving too much away).
The Cost of Oppression
All throughout the girls’ punishment, Mary’s father begins to feel guilt that his own sins of the past may have influenced his daughter. And much like his sins passed down, so too did the ones of society itself. One opposed generation in turn oppresses the next, and the result is a fanatical society of people who are willing to implement acts of brutality on loved ones in the name of righteousness.
Amidst the movie’s quite dramatic third act, one character argues to another that “this [disaster] is the price of silence”. Everything could have been avoided had Mary’s family actually shown an ounce of humanity towards her. And while her father was sympathetic, his silence was consent enough for it continue.
It allowed the Matriarch, portrayed brilliantly and creepily by Judith Roberts (Dead Silence) to exact her Puritan style justice and correction without resistance. Even her own mother questions her father, which is further evidence of just how brainwashed this family is, which is a tad bit surprising given the place and setting.
Finding a Voice
The movie’s opening text lets us know that it’s set in New York in the year 1843. But based on the family’s outright puritanical values, and the fact that everyone seems to be talking a quasi Irish accent that is often associated with the colonial period, it’s strange that it’s not set two centuries earlier during the Puritan times in New England.
Its dialogue and themes hearken back to films like The Crucible, The Scarlet Letter, and The Witch, however unlike them, it’s set much later. People of the mid-19th Century were certainly more old fashioned and puritanical than the 20th, however it seems strange they would be so extreme. Given their rural setting, it’s likely that they’re a bit more socially conservative than those living in cities, but it’s never really mentioned or addressed.
Ultimately, The Last Thing Mary Saw is a chilling look at how lawful evil can yield such disastrous and negative effects. It boasts strong performances from a great cast, and it remains a quiet, but enthralling entry into Shudder’s lineup!
What did you think of The Last Thing Mary Saw? Let us know in the comments!