A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
One of the three vignettes centers on the lead character taking part in a scheme to rob a group of traveling Romani performers. Romani in this movie check off all the stereotypes. The riches inside a treasure chest are called "Jew gold" by a character; the scene includes black-and-white footage of, among other things, dead bodies and teeth from archival concentration camp footage. A lead character has developmental disabilities. Another suffers trauma and mental illness due to sexual abuse and incest from childhood.
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Violence & Scariness
In one of the more disturbing scenes, a father living with his adult son who has developmental disabilities demands that his son look at pornography while in his bed and orders him to masturbate. Flashback of child abuse: A young boy is burned with an iron on his forehead. In a nightmare, repeated stabbings in chest; bloody. Ax murders. Gun and rifle shots. Characters shot and killed. Flashback of woman hanging from a tree branch; suicide. A lead character has recently gotten out of jail for serving a sentence for statutory rape.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
Brief male nudity (buttocks) while two characters are shown having audible sex. Brief images of naked women in black-and-white pornographic magazine.
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Strong language throughout. "F--k" often used. Also "s--t," "bulls--t," "bastard," "t-tties." "Retard." "Queers."
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Cocaine and heroin use. Father is an alcoholic who drinks whiskey all day. Binge-drinking at a party. Drinking in a bar. Wine drinking at a dinner party. Cigarette smoking.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that What Josiah Saw is a 2022 horror movie about members of an estranged family trying to move on from their disturbing past. This disturbing past involves suicide, sexual abuse, and incest. In one of the more disturbing scenes of the movie, the father of an adult son with developmental disabilities instructs the son to look at a pornographic magazine and masturbate for him. A flashback scene shows a woman's dead body hanging from a tree after suicide. Other violence includes ax murders, a nightmare involving repeated stabbings (blood shown), and characters shot and killed. One of the lead characters has just gotten out of jail after serving a sentence for statutory rape. There's cocaine and heroin use, cigarette smoking, and drinking in a bar. The father drinks whiskey all day and is shown passed out in a chair. Brief nudity (male buttocks) is shown as a man and woman have audible sex in a bed. Brief images show naked women in black-and-white pornographic magazine. Strong language includes "f--k" and some slurs. The movie includes some stereotypes of Romani people. To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
This is a difficult and disturbing horror of the Southern gothic school. While ultimately a rewarding viewing in the way that the confusion one feels initially is made clear by the end, What Josiah Saw is a torturous journey in many ways. The story is told in three vignettes centered on the three adult children of a family from a farmhouse in rural Texas whose dysfunction is so complete, it makes the stories of Faulkner or Flannery O'Connor seem like sappy '80s sitcoms. At its best, it's an original and deeply unsettling horror movie, but at its worst, it's marred by clichés of horror movies, the South, and certain ethnicities.
It's a good but not great movie that seems like it has a shot at attaining cult status, as it's likely to reward repeated viewings (assuming one would want to do such a thing, considering what transpires in some of the more shocking scenes). It's a story of trying to break from the traumas of the past, and how difficult that is no matter how hard these characters try (and they do try). However, the movie is damaged by too-long scenes involving traveling Romani who are portrayed stereotypically. It's maddeningly close to being a great movie, but these forays into the Tarantino-esque (particularly with the second vignette) make the whole thing feel less inspired than the rest of it.
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