Tag Archives: Jake Weber

Father Knows Best

What Josiah Saw

by Hope Madden

Just when you think you know where director Vincent Grashaw’s Southern Gothic What Josiah Saw is going, you meet Eli.

One at a time, Grashaw introduces us to the Graham children. At first, it’s poor Tommy (Scott Haze), a simple fella living at home with Graham patriarch, Josiah (Robert Patrick). Josiah doesn’t think much of Tommy. He doesn’t think much of God, either, but he’s having a change of heart.

Then Grashaw switches gears and introduces us to Tommy’s brother Eli (Nick Stahl), who lives hard. He’s run afoul of some bad people (including Jake Weber in a welcome cameo) and is in some pretty desperate straits. Finally, we meet sister Mary (Kelli Garner), whose trauma sits far nearer the surface and strengthens our unease about the inevitable family reunion.

The Grahams reunite, drawn by the lure of oil money: the Devlin corporation hopes to drill on their land. The money could mean a fresh start for everyone. But some details need to be handled first.

Moving from story to story, What Josiah Saw keeps you on your toes. Grashaw glides easily from one style to the next, although Eli’s gritty thriller storyline is the most intriguing. It feels more complete, less bait and switch, and benefits from Stahl’s naturalistic, resigned performance.

Not every episode works as well. The stones left unturned and strings left untied from one tale to the next, though, give the film a rich, dark present-day. From the outset it’s clear there’s a traumatic backstory waiting to be revealed, so it’s to Grashaw and writer Robert Alan Dilts’s credit that the messy present keeps pulling our interest.

Patrick delivers a strong turn, mean-spirited and commanding. He’s at the center of the mystery, the center of everybody’s trauma in a film mainly concerned with how you live with the marks left by your childhood.

Ambiguity in the third act is becoming a theme in horror this year. Alex Garland’s Men, the recent stalker horror Resurrection, and now, What Josiah Saw. Sometimes it’s brave to let the audience own the experience and make the call. More often, it feels indecisive or muddy. I’m not sure all the clues are here to help make the determination for What Josiah Saw, but even without proper closure, Grashaw paints a creepy picture.

Fright Club: Nice Guys in Horror

The best horror movies balance the darkness with light, the evil with goodness. Often enough they only do that so it can hurt you all the more when the nice guys finish dead last. Here are our favorite nice guys in horror. Be warned, a couple of these include spoilers that will break your heart.

5. Dick Hallorann (Scatman Crothers), The Shining (1980)

Thank god for Dick Hallorann, the one person poor little Danny could trust to make sense of a senseless situation and do the right thing in a pinch. Scatman Crothers played such an amiable character, the kind of grown man who’s good to children. He was a good dude.

Kubrick was not as good to Scatman, though. The director famously put the then-70-year-old actor through 60 takes of his wordless death scene. He knew it was the one death that would break our hearts, though, so it had to be perfect.

4. Finn (Sam Richardson), Werewolves Within (2021)

The brand new video game adaptation opens with, of all things, a quote from Mr. Fred Rogers.

I am in.

Sam Richardson plays Finn, the new park ranger in an isolated mountain town divided along political lines. All he wants, especially as it becomes increasingly clear that there is a werewolf afoot, is for everyone just to try to be a good neighbor.

One of the reasons this film is as fun and satisfying as it is (no, not because the cute AT&T girl Lily [Milana Vayntrub] is in it) is because this film doesn’t punish Finn for being a good guy. It celebrates it. Finally!

3. Lee (Jon Krasinski), A Quiet Place (2019) SPOILER

Don’t watch the clip if you haven’t seen the movie. Or if you weep easily. Or if you weep less easily. What a gut punch this one is!

Sure, Lee’s fathering is marred by anger and frustration, but his tenderness – especially at the end – and his consistent desire to protect, encourage and support his family earns him a spot here.

2. Michael (Jake Weber), Dawn of the Dead (2004)

You just want to hug him. A cooler head, a humble voice, a supportive voice of reason, Mark is perhaps the most important person in that mall hunkered down away from the fast-moving zombie horde.

No matter what happens, Mark never loses his humanity. Hell, he never even loses his temper.

We bet he was a great dad.

1. Frank (Brendan Gleeson), 28 Days Later 

This movie – a genre masterpiece – finally gave us a break, a breather, a respite from the rage and fear and terror when it introduced us to Frank.

Brendan Gleeson, a masterpiece himself, is ever chuckling, good-natured, protective but kind dad. He wants to keep his daughter safe. He wants to ensure her safety. But he also wants to carve out some kind of normalcy, happiness, even.

He is huggable, dependable, and exactly what Jim and Selena need, too.