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The acting in the film is really well done honestly, but the movie is
so slow and so boring, as soon as it gets interesting everything slows
to a major halt. I am glad to see Sam Rockwell in this, he did a great
job, so did the other actors as I mentioned but man... this is one of
the worst dragged out films I have ever seen. Now maybe in a short film
form this movie would be good, but other than that, avoid it. This film
has so much filler it makes a Twinkie cake jealous.
I never, ever, walk out on films, but watching this one at home with family, I walked out. Yeah, it was that boring. Apparently my comment doesn't have enough lines to post, so here's some more filler. I guess I was inspired by the movie I just watched.
With very little foreknowledge, I tuned into this movie expecting some
kind of kid-possessed-by demon Exorcist/Damien rip-off, but although
the film tells of a kid from hell there is no supernatural element to
it. I was initially quite surprised by how well-written the screenplay
was, although the plot loses some of its impetus half-way through as
the writer is forced to create progressively unlikely incidents in
order to build upon the tension he has already created.
Joshua is a strange boy, bordering on genius, who likes nothing more than pulling the stuffing from his toy panda's nose in emulation of the Ancient Egyptian's method of preparing dead bodies for embalming. He's also pretty good at copying Dad's grief when he mourns over the dead body of the old family dog (who Joshua may or may not have offed while walking in the park). Joshua knows he's weird, and you sense he's frightened that his parents don't love him or at least won't love him as much now that a baby sister has arrived in the scene. Sneaking a peek at videos of his constant wailing as a baby also does nothing for his frame of mind, and it's not long before he's sneaking in to little sis's room to make her cry the way he used to.
All these scenes are intelligently scripted and handled as is Joshua's unique piano recital fooling you into believing you're in for something really special but, while the film is still impressive (and far better than much of the stuff coming out of Hollywood these days), the plot developments become increasingly predictable, while the aim of Joshua's quiet campaign of terror on his parents is something of a mystery initially, and a little far-fetched when revealed in the final scene (which, naturally, leaves the way open for a sequel).
Cheesy fight flick tries to bask in the horrific glory which was once
Rosemary's Baby and The Omen, but ends up feeling like The Good Son
instead. Conceptually, Joshua could have had a lot going for it.
Sibling rivalry, which formed the basis of this far-fetched tension, is
as good a plot device as any to further the suspense, and at times the
darkened bedroom scares elicited from the script do effectively make
viewers hold there breath. These moments are so few and far between
however, that the inherent comedy beneath this half-baked excursion
begins to seep out at an alarming rate, climaxing with one of the worst
end scenes in recent memory.
Mainly the scares fail because the lead character, this evil child whom we are supposed to fear, just comes across as silly and unrealistic in nearly every scene. Though his parents might have helped sustain certain scenes a little more (Vera Farmiga in particular stands out as the depressed mother), lead Jacob Kogan is simply unequipped to deliver his role in convincing fashion. From his demeanor to his dress, Joshua is written like a cardboard cutout stereotype of the young eccentric evil genius to a tee, almost always opting for bland, misjudged characterization as opposed to any sort of real personality that might have in fact provided a believable fright.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
Watched this from the telly without any prior knowledge. Looked
interesting in the trailer and i had never heard of it. Rockwell and
Farmiga are quite capable actors, so why not.
The movie was being marketed as a horror movie, the week before they showed 28 Weeks Later, so I was expecting something a bit more horrorish, but this turned out to be more of a psychological thriller and drama. Which isn't a bad thing tho, but for some reason I got the impression from the ads that this was kind of a modern Damien thing. Not really.
Root down, this movie could've been a study of how kids act when the family gets another baby. Joshua here becomes a big brother and they have many scenes where they clearly show that the new baby gets more attention than Joshua. On the otherhand Joshua is said to have been a "difficult" one from the beginning. There is also a hint that there is some mental illness in the family as the mother played by Vera Farmiga has mental issues.
The mental illness part and becoming a bigger brother would've been enough for me, but they also clearly show that Joshua is getting quite a free upbringing as they let him go by his own in a big city. I'm quite sure this is an intentional choice as they discuss it at one point. Then there is the part of the dad (Sam Rockwell) maybe wanting Joshua to be a bit different. The dad is clearly a "buddy" kind of man. Even tho he's obviously smart and well educated - working in finance - he likes sports and most likely listens to some kind of pop/rock on his iPod and jams along. Joshua on the otherhand is booksmart, not interested in sports and so on..
Oh, and then there's even an overly religious grand mother, which adds the religion factor you have come to expect in a movie like this, but which in my opinion wasn't needed at all.
During the movie, Joshua is shown to do all kinds of weird things making his parents crazy and you're not really sure if he's the devil himself incarnated or just a messed up kid. Or just a different kind of kid pushing his boundaries.
I'm gonna give the ending away, so stop reading now if you don't want to know it. In the end it seems as if Joshua played the whole thing to be able to be with his uncle who is a bit like Joshua - not necessarily like the others in society. So in the end it seems as if Joshua was the smart one, just not getting along with his parents at all. Sort of a mismatch of parents and their child.
I'm not quite sure what to make of this movie, since it had so many things going on. Clues, explanations, hints of supernatural stuff, religion, mental illness.. none of them really paying off.
It's not The Omen, not The Exorcist, not Rosemary's Baby.. for sure. It was an interesting take on "a child genius", dressed up as a thriller, even a horror movie. It's rather good, but don't expect it to be a horror movie in the end.
I cannot believe how good this movie was. I was riveted from the beginning. The blurb on the TV info compared it to Damien. I thought it was better. You must see this movie. The suspense builds slowly but completely. The actor who plays Joshua was very good. I wonder what he drew upon in his real life to make his character so believable. I often wonder that about young actors and actresses. Where do they get that feeling, like Patty McCormick in (can't remember the name) or McCauley Culkin (sp) in The Good Son. You are drawn in by how Joshua behaves. There are no spoilers in my review. Just watch the movie to see for yourself.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I saw the whole movie this time! The first time I caught on Cinemax
about 1/3 in ...
I very rarely post on IMDb but I was truly struck by some -- make that most -- of the subtle brilliance in this film -- I think the shock of this character (a child!) to our normal sensibilities (Joshua) renders an awkward defense mechanism that "pre-judges" everything that follows.
Huh? Well, the first time around I missed how horrible these parents were in regard to their lack of love or appreciation for their genius prodigy child! In no way does this make up for Joshua's later behavior--or, maybe it does to some degree?
Joshua has a mind that is self-aware and fully functioning at NINE years old--but he lacks experience--this occurs in the real world after all, we're not all 8th grade intellects ... that is the average.
I'm not going to say anymore except to say -- I believe this movie will be much better understood and appreciated over the years. Brilliant.
Those who hyped "Joshua" prior to its theatrical run bandied about the names of Hitchcock and Polanski in an attempt to sell an art film that, while well-made and rife with fantastic performances, never transcends its own lack of purpose. Yes, this is one of those films that raises its nose at the very notion of "evil kid" flicks while playing into their conventions without shame. Nine-year old Joshua Cairn (Jacob Kogan) is a prodigy who excels at school and is already exhibiting the traits of a master manipulator; when his new baby sister comes home, he sets into motion a plan to erase her from the picture, but not before driving parents Brad (Sam Rockwell) and Abby (Vera Farmiga) off the deep end. While the child's motives are only vaguely hinted at, it's strongly implied that he's enacting vengeance for the affection he never received as an infant (and thus transformed him into an unfeeling pod-kiddie). Director/co-writer George Ratliff shows a flair for mining tension from plot turns that are fairly mechanical, and builds a sense of pervasive unease that, till the thoroughly telegraphed denouement, is a modest echo of Polanski's "apartment trilogy." The adult performers are excellent, with Rockwell ("The Green Mile") and Farmiga ("The Departed") absolutely convincing as the well-meaning parents whose lives descend out of control (even if it's hard to believe they wouldn't have had Joshua committed years before); Rockwell possesses a fine mix of fatherly devotion and paranoia, and Farmiga's psychologically damaged mother is sympathetic and nigh tragic. If there's a problematic performance here, it's Kogan's, whose Joshua is an overly mannered, blank-eyed moppet whose dialog and mannerisms transform him into more of a plot contrivance than a character (since he's the film's pivot point, we have to suffer through his awkward dissertations on death and Egyptian mythology); it's as though Ratliff and co-writer David Gilbert, having already named the film after this "enfant terrible," needed to blare his obvious weirdness in our faces. "Joshua" may be the new kid on the block, but he pales in comparison to "The Omen" and "The Good Son."
Speaking as someone who through no fault of his own was just about as
strange as Joshua in this movie, I have to say this kid actor really
got the part perfect. Even as a child younger than Joshua, I used to
wonder how adults could seriously believe I and those my age were
somehow "innocent", how easily they could all be "played" against one
another if that's what you felt like doing.
I grew up somewhere along the way, and while it wasn't for lack of trying, I managed to make it without killing anyone. The kid I was - the kid Joshua is in the movie - is one of the primary reasons I'm too terrified to have kids. Seriously - when you get a smart one like that with a chip on his shoulder, it's just not safe.
If you want a reason to avoid parenthood, this is a good movie to watch. If you ever wondered just how sadistic and malicious a little kid can be, and how truly dangerous, this movie is spot-on. Oh sure, most kids could never be like Joshua, but then Joshua - and I - were never like "most kids". Seriously.
The pace is rather slow and it takes awhile before you really get to see Joshua for what he is, but once it gets there & Joshua begins taking off the kid gloves, and especially after the park beating with his father and you see them packing his things away, you realize just how terrified his parents should have been all along. Pay attention to the things they pack away, very closely. The creepy thing is how sickeningly sweet Joshua plays his role the entire time, even after you've figured him all out. He's not so blatant about his hostility, you can only really tell what he really feels by what he does, not by how he acts or what he says.
Definitely recommended for those who like "spawn of Satan" type "evil kid" flicks, though only if you don't mind a slightly slow pace and not all that much gore or actual brutality.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
First of I want to mention to Bob Z(who posted a comment on here),there is nothing gay or anti-gay about the film Joshua and I have no idea what your weird comment was about and it offended me.I know you have a right to your opinions but it came out of left field.To my knowledge the movie had nothing to do with homosexuality,but if anything is anti-gay it's your comment on it. Yes Joshua's uncle may have been gay but it was never established so maybe he was or maybe he wasn't.He was artistic and into music like his nephew so they just had common interests.As for the ending and Josh being happy to have his uncle as his guardian after supposedly getting his parents out of the way,it could simply be just that he related better to him.His dad was a bit too straight laced and into sports and his mom was mentally ill and flying off the handle so he is probably better off with his uncle.I do agree that the movie mocked Christianity and all the negative comments about it in the movie were uncalled for.The movie wasn't a comedy so the whole Christian/Jew thing was kind of stupid. What is unclear is whether Joshua did all the devious things we think like push his grandma to her death,drive his mom to insanity,try to harm his little sister,kill the family dog,and frame his own dad for child abuse.Or is he innocent and just intelligent and misunderstood!The dog was old and could have died naturally,his mother was already out of her mind,his grandma could have slipped and fell since no one witnessed it,and his dad may have been guilty of child abuse because of Joshua's bruises and the drawings etc.The problem with this movie is it's not clear what is happening.It is too easy to assume Joshua is a conniving psychopath,but then maybe he is!I'm not sure what the producer or writer had in mind.I hope there is a sequel so it can all be wrapped up because the ending was too confusing. Bob Z was right though when he mentioned the similarities between the Manhatten apartment in this movie and Rosemary's baby.Otherwise I have no idea why anyone is comparing this movie to the Omen,the Shinning or Rosemary's baby because Joshua is not even a horror and especially not a supernatural one about a ghost or the devil's child.It's a drama with a little suspense possibly about an evil boy with an agenda but that's it.It is more like "the good son" which was another drama about a disturbed boy.I enjoyed Joshua but it could have been more dramatic and frightening. I thought it may have been more like "Mikey" which was another movie about a demented/disturbed boy except Mikey was a 5 year old cold blooded serial killer.Now that was a gory and disturbing movie,but Michael,Freddy and Jason were kids once too!
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
****WARNING*** MINOR SPOILERS
I was intrigued by the trailer for this film, lured into thinking it was another "Bad Seed" or a new riff on "The Omen." I was surprised when, even in LA, this movie received a less than normal advertising campaign and a less than wide release. I should have gone with my "Rockwell reflex," meaning any movie with Sam Rockwell in it should definitely be paid attention to. I think he's one of the best and most under-rated actor today. His choice of projects are diverse and are (I assume) made with interest toward script and character instead of a big paycheck.
I recently bought this film on DVD, expecting a Suspense/Horror film along the lines that I was fed by the marketing of the film. I was not a fan of the 06/06/06 "The Omen." It was a laughable and spoon-fed remake.
MINOR SPOILERS START HERE-- What we don't see in this film is the true bad seed. There is no evil incarnate. The story that is told, and in my opinion, very skillfully, is a sad but suspenseful drama. It is a parent's nightmare, but we also can see it as a child's nightmare as well. We never see Joshua with a knife in his hand. He never pushes his mother over a balcony. There aren't obscene dolly shots with the kid looking evil. No devil horns or tales of an occult connection with a past member of the family.
What made the film great to me is that we're almost spying on a couple that is trying to be the best parents they can be. Like any family, there is a history that comes with life. Rockwell's character comes from an affluent Christian family. His mother is a little overbearing. His wife has obviously had some tragedy in her life and mental problems are a hereditary problem in her family.
I think this film transcends genre and focuses on each character very well. The spoiler in my review is the fact that we never see Joshua acting in an evil way. A lot of the suspense is implied. The film can be read in many ways. Like a piece of music or a good piece of art, you can watch this film several times and each time you see it you see it in a different way. If you're trying to watch this as a horror movie, then who is really the villain? Who do you blame? What really happened?
I think this was a really well made film. There are many implied acts that take place, there is suspense and reasonable doubt into Joshua's actions. There is a lot that may have gone on that wasn't shown on the screen. That's what makes depth of character and depth of a story. Rockwell is our vassal into the events and we see it mostly through his eyes. It's a marvelous, yet tragic film. A film where character trumps genre, a movie that makes you second-guess yourself. It makes you look at the interaction of family, the complexity of life, the circumstances of chance, and the feelings of a child.
If any of you disliked this film because you wanted to see jump-cuts of gore, hear the soundtrack jump to high levels (so you know when to be scared) or just to see a body count, re-watch it and just let the characters tell their story. It's not a happy story, but Joshua's song at the end-- while disturbing-- is really telling of how a child might see the world that he's raised in.
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