A damaged family reunites at their remote farmhouse and confronts long-buried secrets and sins of the past. What Josiah Saw is a tense horror-thriller with well-tempered performances and a slow-burn story. Its gothic aesthetic pairs well with its western roots, and it’s certain to challenge viewers.
“It was a really messed up script that scared me,” commented director Vincent Grashaw (And Then I Go, Coldwater). The script is written by Robert Alan Dilts, who Grashaw noted wasn’t completely done with it when he read it. “It wasn’t finished. He was writing pages at a time and would send me some, and each time I just really wanted more… I really encouraged where it was going, and it kept rattling me with changing gears, and every time I was along for the ride,” said Grashaw.
Robert Patrick (Terminator 2, The Marine), Nick Stahl (Terminator 3, Sin City), and Scott Haze (Jurassic World: Dominion, Old Henry) star in the film, and rounding out the cast are Kelli Garner, Tony Hale, Jake Weber, Ronnie Gene Blevins, Troy Powell, and more.
As What Josiah Saw is available to stream now on Shudder, Grashaw and Stahl joined us to talk about the film.
Eli in What Josiah Saw
“I appreciated Eli’s struggle,” said Stahl, speaking of his character, “I like playing those roles where the guy is in over his head, and he is kind of a reluctant, darker hero in the story. When his story starts out and where he winds up is kind of long and rigorous, but it was all fun to play and immediately made me want to jump on board.”
“I had always been a fan of Stahl since Bully. I mean, even before that, Man Without a Face… I was just a fan of him, and I hadn’t seen him in a long time, and I had heard he was back to acting after taking a break, and he had this great look to him that I thought Eli needed,” added Grashaw. “There is a sweet, charming thing about him, and so I felt that to get people to care about Eli’s journey and have empathy and root for him, Nick, above anyone I’ve considered, had those qualities… Even with the things you learn about his character, I needed people to really root for him, and Nick brought that into it.”
Grashaw continued, noting how he actually had not met Stahl in person prior to filming and just had a few moments over the phone, however, trusted him to come in and be prepared.
“I kind of operated just from reading the script, and instinctively how I thought the character would act… The story and the screenplay were beautifully laid out, and it was very clear to me how the character should be played… when you have a great script and dialogue, that kind of does the heavy lifting for you,” added Stahl.
Working with Robert Patrick & Fine-Tuning
Patrick and Stahl have the right amount of chemistry on screen, considering the dynamic between their characters. Patrick plays Josiah in the film, Stahl’s character’s father.
“He’s a lot of fun to work with,” said Stahl, “he’s so great in that role, and he’s a character. He shows up, and he has a good time.” That would be off camera, of course, between the heavy and dramatic scenes we see their characters in. “He definitely does not line up with the material we were filming,” laughed Stahl, “because he’s a really funny and charismatic guy. I think it’s important we had fun making the movie because when you’re doing such dark stuff, sometimes you look to find levity and lighten the mood.”
Grashaw noted that getting these dark scenes, as Stahl referenced, from the script to final edit required major fine-tuning. “The script is never finished… I mean, the first cut of this movie was two hours and 38 minutes, and I cut 42 or so minutes out of the film. There is a lot left out of it. Things that you work out and massage. We shot 106 pages and I did not expect it to be a two-hour and 38-minute movie. So that was somewhat of a battle… but once you get rid of it, and time moves on, you start seeing the bigger picture, and you don’t miss any of it… it’s just part of the process… every time I look at movies, and releasing movies, you’re just sending off your kid to college and hoping you raised them right.”
What Josiah Saw is available on Shudder.