Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews - By Fans For Fans


Directed by Vincent Grashaw.
Starring Robert Patrick, Scott Haze, Nick Stahl, Kelli Garner.
Horror, US, 120 minutes.


Streaming on Shudder from 4th August


Set in a gothic American south where even a clear blue sky portends doom and madness, WHAT JOSIAH SAW is a pitch-black portrait of a family and the terrible secrets they keep. Robert Partick portrays the titular head of a clan who are both dysfunctional and disconnected in a number of ways. Still mourning over the death of his wife from years before Josiah whiles away the days drinking himself into an angry, alcoholic stupor while his youngest son Thomas tinkers away on the farm and seems to have a troubling interest in a small boy in the nearby town. Miles away in Texas, eldest son Eli tries to manoeuvre his way out of a life-threatening debt to a local crime lord by ripping off a band of travelling Romany gypsies while the troubled Mary hopes to deal with the trauma of her family history by adopting a child. Scattered across the country these three estranged siblings soon find themselves on a collision course with each other as they flee their own internal demons only to face a secret from their shared past that could tear them apart in many more ways.


Vincent Grashaw’s direction of Robert Alan Dilt’s script makes WHAT JOSIAH SAW a prime slice of American Gothic. Split into three distinct chapters, dealing with each sibling in turn, it first feels like a period piece with the sparse farmland and twanging country music sound tracking the life of Josiah and the simple-minded Thomas. It is somewhat a shock to the senses when they take their truck into town and you see that we are actually in the present day. A further juxtaposition also comes to the fore in the second chapter dealing with Thomas’s hardscrabble criminal lifestyle coming into contact with something far more otherworldly when he runs afoul of the criminal gypsy clan who still deal with certain matters in the old ways of their mother country.


The most obvious comparison to make when a film is structured in such a fashion is of course PULP FICTION but this is entirely its own beast mixing up such genres as ghost stories with hard boiled crime fiction and then getting even darker still with a psychological look at the trauma that has split this family apart but is fated to bring them back together in a shockingly dark manner. Grashaw never shies away from these sinister aspects and even seems to revel in them with an ending that some may find sickeningly offensive and contradictory to its characters. At the same time there is a sense of restraint in the display of on screen physical violence that also feels slightly inconsistent giving the film a slightly schizophrenic energy, as if it does not quite know which way to go or how far to take it.


WHAT JOSIAH SAW still manages to command the viewers’ attention. Whether it’s Robert Patrick’s unhinged portrayal of an abusive father, his second such role of the year after the uproarious PEACEMAKER series, or Carlos Ritter’s beautiful stark wide screen photography this is a compelling watch despite its slight missteps. Those looking for something different in their horror viewing or those looking for something different in their crime movie viewing should find themselves equally satisfied with this dark mixture of the two.


Iain MacLeod.


This web site is owned and published by London FrightFest Limited.


FrightFest is the registered trade mark of London FrightFest Limited.

© 2000 - 2024

Film, DVD, Blu-Ray & Streaming Reviews
By Fans For Fans