(2013)

Critic Reviews

50

Metascore

Based on 17 critic reviews provided by Metacritic.com
80
Child of God is a shocking tale of backwoods lunacy and one man's descent into hell. Perhaps the most shocking thing about it is that it's really rather good.
75
This is ambitious, challenging filmmaking, elevated by Franco's compassion and Haze's revelatory acting. OK, the film trips up on its attempt to lace tragedy with gallows humor. But Franco is out there trying something, balancing literature and cinema in a tightrope act that is never less than exciting to watch.
60
The crazed intensity of Franco's filmmaking, while duly evocative of Haze's primitive state, is ultimately too hectic and unmodulated for anything to burrow deep and stay there.
60
Dramatically, Child of God is hit or miss; some scenes are ferociously captivating while others are given clumsy handling, almost to the point of indifference.
50
James Franco's general aesthetic is ugly and ambling, not so much because of its brownish-gray monochrome, but because it registers like the jerky result of a college kid wielding a DV cam.
50
Which isn't to say the film is without merit. It is utterly fascinating to see classic literature re-enacted as if it were theatre, and it takes courage to grab up something as iconic in its darkness as Child of God and just play it straight.
40
It could have been so much worse; we wish it was a lot better.
40
It's McCarthy's complex use of language, rather than the plot's grueling imagery, that elevate the book. There's simply not enough insight here to make the punishment worthwhile.
30
As it stands, Child of God is brazenly, outstandingly bad, as vague, pretentious, and pointless as its sorry title. But it's certainly memorable, full of inadvertent howlers and destined to create a whole new subgenre of burlesque, audience-torturing cinema.
30
What's left in the absence of McCarthy's prose is a sincere but fundamentally pointless ode to a madman, which does little more than invite viewers to gawk at the unspeakable.
25
The prevailing mood of Child of God, published in 1973, is filth, alienation and inertia. You can have it.
25
Child of God is, like the source novel, loosely inspired by the notorious real-life cannibal murderer Ed Gein. So was Alfred Hitchcock's “Psycho.'' Nobody left that classic bored - but they sure will be by Franco's film.
25
The whole thing feels sort of tossed off, like it was made by film students over a couple of weekends.

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