“God’s got something he wants done, boy.”
Subgenre: Southern Gothic Gone To Rot
Release Date: 2022 (Fantasia Fest in 2021)
FX: Very little blood and such
Some Clichés/Tropes: Crazy “Christianity”, Ghosts of Youth, Freaky Families
Where I Watched: Shudder
Story: Tommy is a grown man living with his alcoholic pa Josiah in the house he grew up in. So when Josiah sees a vision of a “way to make peace with our sins”, they get to work on that. Meanwhile, Tommy’s older brother and sister receive an offer from an oil company to sell the ol’ farm. But everyone in the family needs to sign off. Family reunion time! I’m sure nothing bad will happen.
Spooky or Nah?: Josiah starts off feeling like a cool blend of Southern Gothic and modern-day A24 horror. But sadly, though the cast delivers stellar performances, the plot feels sketched together rather than fully formed. It’s an interesting, chilling idea that never really takes off.
The big problem is how the story is structured. It’s told in three “acts”, each focusing on a different sibling. While that should work, each story feels unconnected to what’s come before, giving me the feeling that it was gonna pick back up any minute now. Sadly, it doesn’t. The first segment focuses on Tommy and Josiah, and it’s effectively creepy, doling out just enough breadcrumbs to keep things interesting. But Eli and Mary’s stories are completely separate entities. That distance between the subplots had me wondering if this was going to be an anthology rather than a single story. Yes, things do come together at the end. But even though the climax is suitably scary, it feels rushed, unearned after the barely cobbled together family dynamics.
Keeping each sibling in their own separate story bubble leaves Josiah with no emotional core to draw on once things take a turn. So instead of Oh No, it’s more Okay That’s Happening. But I do have to shout out Robert Patrick for going completely off the chain as the title character.
TRIGGER WARNING: while y’all know I don’t do these that often, there’s a central storyline that deals with sexual abuse, another that hints at it. It’s extremely in your face, so if that topic is a big nope for you? Avoid this film.
Grade: B- (Bumped up from a C+ thanks to Robert Patrick’s all-in performance)