Everyone in town knows about the haunted Graham Farm on Willow Road. You’ll hear there’s a bad history to it. Josiah and his youngest son, Thomas, are all that remain of this estranged family. But after experiencing terrifying visions from beyond, Josiah decides they must change their ways to right a great wrong. After being away for over two decades, Eli and Mary, Josiah’s eldest children, are enticed to sell the property and reunite at the old farmhouse in hopes of closing this haunting chapter of their lives for good. Sins of the past will be paid in full.
Described as a “gothic southern horror,” What Josiah Saw stars the far-sung talents of Robert Patrick (The Terminator), Nick Stahl (Sin City), Scott Haze (Child of God) and Kelli Garner (Lars And The Real Girl). The film was Directed by Vincent Grashaw written by Robert Alan Dilts. What Josiah Saw premiered to great praise at the 2021 Fantasia Film Festival and went on to win awards at the Brooklyn Horror Film Festival, Screamfest, The Fantaspoa International Fantastic Film Festival, amongst others.
Our opening act focuses on the strenuous relationship between Josiah (Patrick) and Thomas (Haze) and their daily life on the farm. It’s a dark and abusive story that really shows off Patrick’s acting chops; we are able to really hate him within a few short minutes which is no easy task considering how beloved the actor is. Once the visions begin, the film starts to unfold its bizarre but beguiling plot which sometimes walks that fine line between can’t watch and can’t look away.
Chapter two (yes, it does the thing) is all about our other brother, Eli (Stahl). This is a hard change in direction from the first chapter and has a completely different tone to that of the first. So different, in fact, that it feels like a completely new film altogether—the atmosphere, the themes, the stylisation; it’s all a far cry from the farmhouse. This is not necessarily a bad thing because I was—at this point in the film—fully intrigued and wondering how these characters intended to coalesce.
Here’s a snippet of Eli’s journey thanks to our friends over at Shudder.
Chapter three then jumps to Mary (Garner), our third and possibly most disturbed sibling, which is one hell of a fucking achievement considering the first two. You’d think that after Eli, we’d have gotten some semblance of normalcy with the third, but this is probably where the film throws us into the deep end without our water wings. No swimmies for you, we’re checking off every box on the mental health, red flag checklist. Mary’s intro is cut shorter than Thomas’ or Eli’s as Eli pitches up to convince Mary to head back to ground zero.
It was at this point that I realised that I had absolutely no idea where Grashaw was headed with this plot…or what twisted tale Dilts had conceived. It was peak unpredictability and that was so refreshing for me because I could probably write at least half off the films that I watch. This was something else completely; an intricately woven story of a handful of tragically broken characters—all brilliantly acted—converging on an unknown horror that the film had not yet revealed for over and hour and a half. Sure, there were speckled clues hither and thither but, at this point, nothing was clear except that there was no way that this was going to end well for anyone. I’m all in on this finale. I was praying that the ending would hold up to the build that—until this point—had been near flawless.
And then it kind of ends in a chaotic climax that again went in a direction I was not prepared for. Don’t get me wrong, the ending was great. I just felt like the build had been reaching for so much more than what was eventually delivered. I’m still not completely sure as to what happened as the film’s conclusion is foggy at best and I really don’t want to drop any spoilers. Still, I loved the fact that it kept me guessing until the credits started to roll. Hell, even as the credits rolled out and that fantastic track choice began, I realised that I’d watched something of a masterpiece tonight. Would I have chosen to end the film the same way? No…I’d have gone with something more reckless. Did it work though? Absolutely.
Thanks for reading and as always, stay sordid. What Josiah Saw will be streaming strictly on Shudder in the following regions come August 4th: Shudder U.S., Shudder CA, Shudder UKI, and Shudder ANZ. The poster and trailer are below. I recommend that you give this one a watch. It’s worth your time. Different is a rarity in this day and age and this counts as just that. Trailer and artwork below.
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