Summary of What Josiah Saw.
Was Josiah sah?is a supernatural horror story currently airing on Shudder. It plays with some pretty heavy themes, including child abuse and family murder, so it's not easy to watch.
The film centers on the Graham family: patriarch Josiah and his three adult children, Tommy, Eli, and Mary. At the end of this haunting horror story, the family is reunited after years apart. Their meeting does not end well. After a series of uncomfortable revelations, a tree burns outside. Engraved on it are the words "Sins paid in full."
But whose sins have been fully paid for and what do these words mean? Let's take a closer look at the film.
Warning: there will be spoilers!
What happens in chapter 1?
Chapter 1 is titled "The Ghost of Willow Road." Here we meet Josiah and Tommy on the family farm. We learn that Josiah has visions of Miriam, his wife who committed suicide years ago, and believes that she is "burning in hellfire." She tells him that if they don't correct her mistakes and make things right with God, he and his family will burn in hell too.
What are these errors? Well, sinful things happened on this farm, which will be revealed to us as the movie progresses. Josiah's wife witnessed a sinful event and this was the reason why she decided to commit suicide.
In this chapter it becomes clear that Josiah's relationship with Tommy is not healthy. To clear Tommy's mind of sinful thoughts, Josiah lets his son masturbate in front of his eyes. “God is watching you right now. Go ahead and do it," he tells Tommy, visibly distraught, that he is not satisfied with his father's request.
Outside of the events at the farmhouse, we also meet a representative of an oil company. He plans to buy houses in the area, including Graham's farm. This is the trigger for the family reunion later in the movie.
What happens in chapter 2?
Chapter 2 is titled "Eli and the Gypsies." In this chapter we meet Eli, who was briefly mentioned by his father in the last chapter.
Eli lives in a mobile home and is being investigated by the police after having sex with a minor some time ago. His crime was unintentional, according to Eli, he thought she was older than he said, but the visiting police officer brushes him off, asking about a girl who has gone missing.
Eli visits a local bar where he owes some money to Boon, the town mobster. To pay off his debt, Eli is asked to steal gold from some gypsies. He is joined by Billy and Logan, two of the men working for Boon, who hire themselves to steal the gold while Eli distracts the gypsies.
Upon arrival, the men are greeted and treated to the gypsies. As Billy and Logan search for the gold, Eli befriends one of the women. She is then introduced to a fortune teller who tells her that she will die soon!
This ominous warning almost comes true when the gypsy realizes that the men are here for the gold. A fight breaks out and the gypsies kill Billy and Logan.
Eli manages to free himself from the gypsies before they kill him and makes a shocking discovery: they have the missing girl. He saves her and makes her escape from her.
He then returns to Boon and gives him the gold. Boon is happy with his prize but dies of a heart attack after touching the gold. Is it because the gypsies cursed the treasure? Possibly.
Eli hands the girl over to the town sheriff and tells him to "run away from here."
At the end of the chapter, Eli goes to the trailer, where he finds a letter outlining the oil company's proposal to buy the farm.
What happens in chapter 3?
Chapter 3 is titled "Mary May I." The chapter begins with Mary and her husband Ross. We learn that she hopes to adopt and that she previously removed her ability to have children through sterile surgery. She has now changed her mind about having a child and she believes that adoption will give her a chance to love someone.
We also learn that Mary is mentally ill and takes ketamine for her mental disorder. We later see her stab herself, but luckily this is just a nightmare.
Eli shows up at her house and tells her about the proposal to buy the farm. Graham's three children have to sign the deal, so he asks them to travel with him to the farm to talk to Tommy.
At first, Mary doesn't seem ready to go back, so Eli reminds her of the game they played as kids, Mary May I, where she had to do whatever was asked, no matter what. Mary tells Eli that she wants to go back anyway to see that the farm is gone forever.
They travel to the farm and it is here that the sins of the family are revealed.
What are the sins of the family?
These are a bit tricky, but let's start with Josiah.
Despite the interactions between Josiah and Tommy early in the movie, we learn that Josiah is dead. However, a traumatized Tommy still has visions of his father, although it could be that his father is actually a ghost.
Tommy talks to his father anyway, much to the surprise of Eli and Mary. They remind him of his father's death and how they all killed the man when they were children. They killed him because of the abuse they suffered at his hands. For Eli and Tommy, this abuse was physical (although the scene with Tommy and Josiah in Chapter 1 suggests it may have been sexual as well), and for Mary, the abuse was allegedly sexual.
According to Eli, the reason for the mother's death was the baby Josiah and his daughter shared. Apparently this was Josiah's sin, although Josiah's vision/spirit is angry at this suggestion.
Tommy does not believe this version of events. According to him, the baby was not Josiah's. This brings us to the sin of Eli and Mary. Tommy believes that Mary got pregnant because Eli had sex with her. He believes that they are the reason his mother committed suicide.
"You're still a crazy Tommy fucking boy," Eli tells him. But is Tommy crazy? Or was that baby Elis?
Who fathered the baby?
Tommy is supposed to be telling the truth and that the baby was Eli's. We can believe that because towards the end of the movie there is a flashback scene showing Eli and Mary having sex in a motel room. It is believed that Eli convinced Mary to have sex during the game "Mary May I" when they were younger. This led to the pregnancy and is probably the reason why Mary had to undergo sterile surgery, as it removed the possibility of having another child from her sexual relationship.
The baby was later murdered, and according to Tommy, it was Eli and Mary who murdered the boy, presumably to remove evidence of their misdeeds. The body had been buried outside along with Josiah's body, but Tommy later carried the bodies inside and hid the remains in a suitcase.
Things get a little crazy when Eli finds out what Tommy has done and confronts him.
Tommy kills Eli with an ax (confirming the fortune teller's prophecy) and then chases Mary outside. He stabs Mary (similar to the nightmare she had earlier) while the spirit(?) of Josiah is drinking on the farm.
Whose sins have been paid for in full?
Outside the farm, a tree burns with holy fire. On it is a sign that says: "The sins of Eli and Maria were paid in full."
This is further proof that Tommy wasn't crazy after all. It appears that it was Eli and not Josiah who had sex with Mary, though that doesn't rule out the possibility that Josiah abused all of them.
What does "sins paid in full" mean?
In Christian theology, Jesus paid in full for our sins when he died on the cross.
How that ties into the movie is hard to say. But it was safe to assume that Mary and Eli's sins were paid for in full when they faced the truth and died at Tommy's hands. It can also be assumed that Miriam's sin (suicide) was paid for in full when her children's sins came to light. This could mean that her soul (and possibly his) has now been saved and saved from the Hellfire as her mistakes have been "corrected" and things "righted right with God".
If you have any thoughts on the ending of the movie and can shed some light on the meaning of the phrase "sins paid in full", please leave us a comment in the section below!
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