One Of The Scariest Scenes In What Josiah Saw Waits Until The Last Second

(Welcome to Scariest Scene Ever, a column dedicated to the most pulse-pounding moments in horror with your tour guides, horror experts Chris Evangelista and Matt Donato. In this edition, Matt tells a story about how "What Josiah Saw" attacks at the most unexpected moment).

Marvel's usage of mid-credits and end-credits sequences has become a cultural phenomenon. We sit attentively in our seats, reading 2nd Unit Director and Digital Effects Artist names, anticipating which superhero cameo awaits. We expect to be shocked and startled by MCU reveals — but that's a specific studio franchise strategy. Indie horror flicks don't usually embrace the tactic because what's the point? Right? 

Au contraire. Let's sit down for Scariest Scene Ever storytime.

Vincent Grashaw's "What Josiah Saw" is one of Shudder's latest new additions, a homestyle Americana thriller that travels multiple genres. The kind of film without sequel intentions nor requires further explanations once the finale wraps. That's why — in a fit of couch-sunken laziness — I let the credits roll on my television with the volume pumped while scrolling social media for non-essential reasons. Words scrolled, music played, and that's when Grashaw smacked me upside the head with an absurdly delayed scare.

The setup

Patriarch Josiah Graham (Robert Patrick) drinks his "tea" (whiskey) and bosses son Thomas (Scott Haze) around with stern words. The death of Josiah's wife weighs heavy on the alcoholic country bully, yet Thomas will never abandon his cruel father. We watch Josiah shame Thomas for previous actions presumed to be deviant, which paints the Graham clan as hiding skeletons in their homestead's closet. Possibly child bones, to add even more uneasiness atop the film's already bleak tone.

One day, Josiah asks Thomas what he's looking at every night out the window. Thomas claims he sees his mother's ghost, which Josiah belittles — until a new man wakes up the next morning after supposedly seeing unspeakable things while in bed. Josiah stops drinking and starts preaching orders from a higher power. Josiah understands how to manipulate his son, playing into his so-called visions. Thomas believes Josiah's promises in their mother and wife's name, to come true only after Thomas completes every household chore imaginable.

The story so far

Since my "scene" happens after the entire damn movie plays, I won't spoil Grashaw's third act in totality. In two subsequent chapters, we meet Thomas' siblings ("What Josiah Saw" structures like a devious folk tale). First is Thomas' brother Eli (Nick Stahl), the ex-convict who bedded an underage partner. His story involves an underworld leader who sends him with goons to rob a carnival troupe of their trauma-tied gold. Maybe things go well; perhaps they don't. You can probably predict.

Then we meet Thomas' sister Mary (Kelli Garner) amid adoption struggles with her frustrated husband, Ross Milner (Tony Hale). After immense domestic strife and suffering, Eli walks back into Mary's life with an oil company's land purchase offer for their childhood residence. They can't accept without Thomas and Josiah's blessing, which means they have to return to the farmland where they grew up — and escaped — to sway their hunkered-in bloodline. But why are Eli and Mary so terrified to return home? That's where the third-act kicks into overdrive.

The scene

Now, remember. My scare selection occurs after the actual flick — something akin to A24's slow-burn mentality, without much attention paid to jump scares. "What Josiah Saw" is repugnant and morally destructive, rooted more in situational horrors of child abuse, sexual assault, and other unspeakable sins. Ghosts are memories of a father's despicable behaviors, not spooky translucent apparitions. You fall into a groove where your guard isn't necessarily hardened; your stomach is just a twist of knots at the thought of Josiah's evils.

So, the credits began. I didn't feel like moving quite yet. My body was exhausted, and I had to log "What Josiah Saw" on Letterboxd (duh). I laid on my couch with the sound of a southern death ballad playing in the background, and I'd glance at the screen every so often just to think about pressing stop — but I didn't. My sloth instincts had taken over. So the song twanged forward, and I could tell the credits were reaching their end. First, the soundtrack titles showed, then the special thank yous, and finally, the title card flashed to let us know we're safe to shut down — but that's just a fakeout.

Just as I was about to power my system down, a jump scare smashes into the credits as Robert Patrick's Josiah stomps towards the screen, cackling mad with his arms outstretched like he's trying to pull you inside your television or device. The camera rattles and string instruments hiss, which caused me an immense fright at the least expected moment.

Now, I'll be the first to complain about horror films that end their movies on a cheap scare pop — few have done it well ("Friday the 13th," "Sinister," "Krampus" stand out). But that's the beauty of "What Josiah Saw." The film takes a stinger moment — what looks to be an outtake of Robert Patrick being a loon — and cues it as an anxiety spiker for film fanatics who watch through the credits. You'd think it's an attack on watchers, but it's a treat. No part of my body was prepared for the scare, nor should my wits assume as much. It's such a rare trick and one I wouldn't usually experience in today's era where streaming services are onto the next title seconds into end credits — kudos to Vincent Grashaw for getting me darn good with the unlikeliest of thrills.

The impact (Chris' take)

I had yet to watch this film, so Matt just had to pick it and make me do extra work. Thanks a lot, Matt! Don't you know I'm lazy? Anyway, I'm always up for some Southern Gothic horror, and there's plenty of moody, rustic atmosphere to spare here. As for the scene in question Matt is highlighting, it really does get you. The credits roll for an awfully long time, and if you're not in the mood to hear the twangy down south goth ballad that plays, you're bound to turn it off and never even get to the stinger. But if you do stay patient, you will be greeted by the sight of Robert Patrick in full ghoul mode. 

I've always liked Patrick as an actor, and while it seems like his T-1000 role will forever be what he's known for, he always delivers the character-actor goods. He also seems very skilled at playing harsh jerks, and now he can add jump-scare master to his list, too.