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The Good Son (1993)

R  |   |  Drama, Thriller  |  24 September 1993 (USA)
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Ratings: 6.3/10 from 26,784 users  
Reviews: 150 user | 29 critic

A young boy stays with his aunt and uncle, and befriends his cousin who's the same age. But his cousin begins showing increasing signs of violent behavior.



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Cast overview, first billed only:
Jacqueline Brookes ...
Quinn Culkin ...
Guy Strauss ...
Keith Brava ...
Jerem Goodwin ...
Andria Hall ...
Bobby Huber ...
Susan Hopper ...


Following his mother's death, Mark is sent to Maine to visit his aunt and uncle while his father goes on a business trip to Tokyo. Mark meets his cousin, Henry, and the two quickly form a friendship. However, Henry begins to show signs of violent behavior that worry Mark. Written by Sam

Plot Summary | Plot Synopsis

Plot Keywords:

death | aunt | boy | highway | jealousy | See All (119) »


Das böse hat viele gesichter (Evil has many faces) (German DVD) See more »


Drama | Thriller

Motion Picture Rating (MPAA)

Rated R for acts of violence and terror involving a disturbed child | See all certifications »

Parents Guide:





Release Date:

24 September 1993 (USA)  »

Also Known As:

El ángel malvado  »

Box Office


$17,000,000 (estimated)


$44,594,000 (USA)

Company Credits

Show detailed on  »

Technical Specs


Sound Mix:


Aspect Ratio:

1.85 : 1
See  »

Did You Know?


The original director Michael Lehmann was replaced due to clashes with Macaulay Culkin's father. See more »


The bed shown in Richard's room at the beginning of the movie, seen by Mark, is not the same bed or bed spread shown later in the movie when the mother and father are in Richard's room. See more »


[first lines]
Man: [Mark plays soccer with his teammates as they cheer Mark's name] Get the ball!
Mark: Pass it to me!
Boy: Shoot it! Hit it in! Hit it in!
Mark: [Mark scores the goal] Yes! Yes!
Boy: Good goal! Good game.
See more »


References The Other (1972) See more »


Music composed by Elmer Bernstein
See more »

Frequently Asked Questions

See more (Spoiler Alert!) »

User Reviews

Dark insight into sociopathic children
27 March 2006 | by (Dundee, Scotland) – See all my reviews

I think part of the reason why 'The Good Son' is barely remembered is because it deals with a side to humanity that no-one really wants to accept in that not all children are sweet little innocents, pure as the driven snow. It's not very comfortable watching a film that shows sociopaths-- people born without the ability to feel guilt and empathise with others-- are born, not made and their dangerous traits are apparent even in childhood. 'The Good Son' revolves around Mark, a motherless boy of twelve who is sent to stay with his Uncle Wallace, Aunt Susan and two cousins, twelve-year-old Henry and six-year-old Connie. At first, Mark revels in the visit that takes his mind off his recent bereavement but he soon starts to realise that Henry is a sociopath whose parents are blind to his dark, violent side. It is a film that pulls no punches in just how malevolent Henry is and how easily he will pick off anyone who dares to interfere with his twisted sense of fun.

Macaulay Culkin was excellent as the angelic-looking Henry whose boyish cuteness hide his true nature and his performance here proves he could have been one of the few child actors who graduated into a successful young adult actor had his personal life not been such a mess. It really was chilling seeing the child I was so used to seeing in comedies being so emotionally cold. But it is Elijah Wood's Mark who gives the film heart. Young Wood, only eleven years old when he filmed this, delivered a great performance as a young boy faced with the awful truth and desperate to stop Henry while juggling his grief over losing his mother. The scene where Mark is convinced Henry has poisoned the food is a perfect example of how Wood portrayed Mark's desperation, hysteria and helplessness in the face of his cousin's evil.

However, one of the flaws of the film is that is a bit choppy, jumping from scene-to-scene without giving you a feel for the other characters, which is a shame because this is one film where you do need to have an understanding of just how Henry's nature affects all those around him and how he gets away with it all. I read the novelisation of the film by Todd Strasser before seeing the film so it's all the more noticeable for me. The book not only gives greater insight into Mark's budding fraternal friendship with Connie and his need to seek a mother in Susan but it also shows Susan's growing awareness to the monster Henry is and how she feels when she is made to choose between Mark and her murderous child.

Overall, this film is enjoyable enough for a psychological thriller (although a few TV detective shows have done this idea in a slicker way) and it is nice to see a film that doesn't take a softly-softly attitude when dealing with the matter of children who kill. However, the ending was a bit of a cop-out as there could have been so many other avenues to explore had things ended differently for Henry (what should be done with sociopathic children? How do decent, loving families deal with such a child?). Those who do expect a bit more from their films will probably be disappointed.

13 of 16 people found this review helpful.  Was this review helpful to you?

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Recent Posts
I never understood the title 'The Good son' Floridaoutlaw
Why was he evil? Kissie147
What if Culkin and Wood had switched roles? The_Desolate_Kid
Who would have you dropped? RealityBites22
So, who was the good son? ArtRob
I found this movie unusually disturbing... LuvsOldSchoolJonas
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