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|Index||86 reviews in total|
What a pleasant surprise. There are movies that know exactly the 'how',
the 'when', the 'who' and particularly to whom. There's a way of making
good movies, a way every filmmaker should consider, and that's the way
of not leaving the viewer outside the story. Believe it or not, when
the viewer gets involved (for better or worse), everything is better.
We may want to stop watching the film or take their eyes off the
screen, or shout, or whatever; but the important thing is something is
Director George Ratliff certainly knows this way, and in "Joshua", his first full-length fiction project, he exploits it: there are times, believe me, in which we become the characters. There's no big sound tricks, no more score than strong piano notes at the right moments (courtesy of Nico Muhly) and some weird noises. However, the impact comes from Jacob Kogan's face and his performance; always an important element if you want to make the viewer believe a little boy can be really mean.
Kogan plays Joshua, of course, and his role implies much more than a spooky face, a face that he doesn't even have because he's, although special, a normal kid. The script by the director David Gilbert never hides this fact and holds on to it to make accentuate the suffering of a family that's falling apart, that can't take it no more and that, we suspect, it might all be because Joshua intentionally wants to harm them. But we don't want to believe it, no one would want to believe such a thing, less so in a film where there's no prophecy from hell or religious implications whatsoever. In fact, Joshua hasn't even been baptized because his parents have different religions.
Brad (Sam Rockwell), a working man who wants the best for his family, and Abby (Vera Farmiga), a housewife who suffers a lot at home but won't accept that a nanny watches her children, have just had a daughter: Lily. If you must know how well Ratliff handles suspense, time in the movie goes by announced by the days of life of the little girl (and that strong piano note). The screen goes black and we read the numbers; sometimes only a few days have passes, sometimes weeks.
The timing of the director never fails, and the movie runs its time slowly but intensely. The elements of the house that once were so bright, start getting darker: the cries of Abby become louder, the hours at Brad's work become tougher, the social environment seems suffocating for a family that chooses to build their life at home, with the exception of dog walks in the park and occasional visits to museums. And I'm not telling you everything.
There are two key characters, played brilliantly by Dallas Roberts and Celia Weston, whose importance is (intelligently) not completely noticed. Then again, this is because we can't notice it. Ratliff handles the 'how' and the 'when' so perfectly because he knows how to handle the 'who'. We see Brad fighting for his family, constantly saying "it's okay, it's okay", and Sam Rockwell's work is fantastic because he plays such a nice guy that gradually turns into, well, Sam Rockwell (or the Sam Rockwell we've seen on screen so much); taking a very realistic and humane attitude towards the heavy problems going on in his own house. Then the focus changes, and it's all about Abby (Vera Farmiga's disintegration is also admirable), or it's all about Joshua; and that focus determines everything else. This way, the suspense works, and the 'to whom' also changes, with the constant and never forgotten provocation towards the viewer.
Answers? Hints, maybe, but nothing concrete. And as a viewer, a movie that defies me without helping me and also defies the standard genres, with the bonus of making me feel something, is more than I can ask for.
This film is just...wow. After all this unintelligent no thought T and A torture porn horror movies we've been getting (Almost all of which had been remakes of films from the seventies and the eighties) it's nice to see a horror film with some substance and thought put in it. This movie really makes you think. Was the boy truly evil? Was his sociopath behavior a result of the neglect from his parents? Without giving anything away the ending will seriously disturb you. Although this movie may sound something like a cross between The Omen and The Good Son trust me it's not. This movie is very original. Not only is "Joshua" the best horror movie in the last decade it's one of the best horror movies of all time.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I hunted down this film on IFC because it fits into a sub-genre of
horror that I find guiltily pleasurable --- The Bad Seed Movie. It's a
juicy type of plot if you think about it: so you find out your kid is
pure evil...what do you do? Kill him? Thrown him in an asylum for life?
A solution of this sort in the movies seems obvious and easy but in
reality would be anything but.
But this *is* just a movie, and usually in the Bad Seed Movie, we always get the sneering, smirking little anti-Christ kid. You can tell he's evil because you see him doing evil stuff! And even when you don't catch him in the act, he always looks like he's gloating about it ("The Omen," "The Bad Seed," and particularly "The Good Son" where Macauley Culkin did everything but twirl a fake mustache).
That's not the case with "Joshua." As many other reviewers have pointed out (some very angrily, which only attests to the film's power I think) we never SEE our antagonist do anything really wrong (until very late in the film). Everything is insinuated. All the "protagonists" are very flawed which never leaves us feeling too badly for them when Joshua starts to wreak havoc.
One exception is Sam Rockwell's character --- though sometimes appearing disengaged with reality he seems to genuinely care for Joshua, which makes his escalating doubts more visceral and harrowing as the film goes on. Many have criticized the ending of the film for being a bit unbelievable, but I think Rockwell's performance (very impressive, if I haven't relayed that) has just the right note of end-of-the-rope madness and out of control desperation.
That desperation is what's truly terrifying about this movie. The thought that, despite doing everything you can possibly think of to right a bad situation, you have no control and no options. That would do it for a lot of people, me included.
Admittedly, I didn't watch the whole movie. I wanted to like it but it was so poor I had to turn it off. The direction is very weak and the music is entirely inappropriate. The characters appear to have been purchased as a job-lot from StereotypesRUs and the script comes across as contrived and unnatural. The opening title sequence has really annoying music and you can't wait for it to be over. When it finally ends it feels like you stopped having your thumb hit by a hammer, but then you get Scene One. This is the most artificial first scene ever put on a screen. A domestic portrait of a family with the mother and baby, the grandparents, the uncle and the sibling at the piano, the father with the video camera. Everyone conspicuously 'acting' out the family portrait. The piano playing in the background re-inflames the nerve that the opening music had antagonized, and continues to do so. After what seems like an aeon the mother tells the kid to stop playing the piano. After this it starts again and if you don't switch it off at this point in utter fury then you're thicker skinned than I am. What an annoying load of amateur garbage. The rest of the movie may have had some redeeming features but I'll never find out because the first fifteen minutes is like having your eyes, eardrums and brain sandpapered.
*** This review may contain spoilers ***
I think this movie was fantastic. If you are looking for a horror film in this movie you will be disappointed. If you are looking for a unique thriller then this movie is for you. I saw it at the video store and rented because Sam Rockwell was in it. Otherwise I wouldn't of even bothered. When I watched it I was shocked how good it was. The bad reviews I have read are only from those people who expected a horror film like The Omen. This is the type of movie that you will watch over and over and realize what a good story it actually is. The way the movie all adds up at the end is worth it. Very shocking. Anyway that is my opinion.
The script leaves a lot of questions open which is not necessarily a
bad thing, but it is also one of those films where you are questioning
the characters actions constantly. That being said, Ratliff does a
terrific job with the material. The cast is excellent and the
characters are all richly drawn. The music added so much to the mood. I
just loved how the film progresses in days of baby Lily's life. It
starts on day 1 and then moves to day 9 or something. It adds to the
creepiness as we watch the evil that Joshua inflicts over a span of 3
months or so. Ratliff is someone to keep an eye on. I think he just may
turn out to be an important filmmaker. Time will tell but this is one
great effort. Creepy as creepy can be.
I watched the film as a DVD double feature with "Vitus" which is an excellent companion piece. Vitus is a very positive tale about another gifted child with great piano skills. Vitus is the antithesis of Joshua, and the film is a total feel good film. Kind of helps to cleanse the old creepy feeling out of you after watching Joshua.
Oh my god this is a howling postmodern mess of a movie. Every cliché is employed from Polanski to BATTLESHIP POTEMKIIN to PSYCHO to the EXORCIST the OMEN etc, every red herring is present, the makers seemingly couldn't figure out what story they wanted to tell and every character is played so miserably that no one elicits any sort of emotional response from the viewer except for cynicism or revulsion and a lingering sense of disgust with oneself for having actually sat through this crap. One scene actually drags a character through broken glass. I've heard the metaphor "a drag through broken glass" used often, but I've never seen any film maker be audacious enough to attempt it. Well, the makers of JOSHUA did. This is one of the few works I've seen that portrays mental illness in such a callous manner that one actually wants to beat the victim of the disorder. No explanation for any abberration is present, people are just no damn good, society is just no damn good, kids are little devils, the world is going to hell. Like witnesses to an auto accident, we are compelled to watch, and that's the best that can be said for this abomination. And like many witness to a car wreck, I can't identify who or what was at fault. But boy, is this movie stinko, from start to finish. JOSHUA is truly stunning in its lack of coherence or human empathy. The only thing scary about this film is the idea of an audience actually enjoying it. Don't bother with this one, life is too short.
Old and familiar story
The evil child line. It's a good base for any
script, but it's what you do with it that counts and I am sorry to say,
this team didn't do anything with it.
The movie has really slow pace, and when I say "slow" I mean standing. We understand that Joshua is the bad kid, evil kid, murderous kid or whatever, we understand it from the title, from the movie picture and from what not!? But people that's the problem, because the movie isn't going anywhere! OK, so the actors play nice, I would even say good acting, but why is the script so boring and repetitive? From the point to the movie starts, and to the point the movie ends not many events occur. You actually getting angry while watching because you can't figure out what's so wrong about this people! To closer, The only reason I've seen it cause most of the evil kids movie I've seen were very good, I didn't think you could mess up such good story I guess this director and writer did it.
OK, so just in case you haven't seen the move, THE TRAILER IS PRETTY
MISLEADING. When people watch the trailer, it leads them to believe
that "Joshua" is something like "The Good Son" - a cool film about a
psycho little brat who just likes to kill people for one reason or
another. "Joshua" is something else entirely, and ten times what I was
expecting when I rented the DVD.
Joshua is not a child psychotic - he's a boy with an IQ much, much higher than the norm, and he knows that he's living in an environment that's not healthy. But, he is still a child and he's not really had enough experience in the world to know what's crossing the line between right and wrong. It also helps that his face is very cute but can easily be very scary at the same time. Like a little Cillian Murphy.
When watching the film for the second time, I realized that it makes the parents out to be bad characters without them actually being bad. They are the reason Joshua wants out and the reason he's a little bit whacked. When he was born, it turned their home into a hellhole, driving his parents (mostly the mother)insane to the point of having him surrounded only by rage and anger. The mother is still pretty crazy and the father over-stressed and over-worked, and Joshua manipulates that to his advantage.
All the performances are COMPLETELY believable, and only enhanced by the fact that none of the actors are recognizable and therefore seem more like someone you may meet on the street. Jacob Kogan's acting was on par with the intensity and believability of Haley Joel Osment's in The Sixth Sense. The intelligence of this film is beyond anything that I have seen before in thrillers of similar subjects, and moves the rest of them WAY down in rank.
20/10. No question.
I thought that The Devil Child was a great horror film it is about a family called The Cairn's. The father Brad works as a stockbroker,his wife Abby takes care of their common new-born daughter Lily, and the 9-year-old Joshua is high-talented. But Joshua becomes gradually more jealous that his parents are giving the baby more attention than him. In Manhattan,stockbroker Brad Cairn and his wife Abby are celebrating their newborn daughter Lily in their new apartment with Brad's mother Hazel and Abby's brother, Ned Davidoff. Joshua is extremely intelligent and talented, and he is feeling neglected and jealous of Lily, trying to get more attention from his parents and relatives. When the baby is nineteen days old, she starts crying, everyday which causes Abby to have a nervous breakdown. Joshua's dad Brad asks if Joshua can stay with his grandmother and Lily, for a holiday. Joshua goes to the museum one day with his grandmother Brad runs to the museum and he sees Joshua with Hazel in the top of the stairs and Hazel his grandmother is about to fall down the stairs. I would recommend people to see this people as it is very good. 7/10
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