Joshua (2007)

"Good"

Joshua (2007) Review


Shot in wide-angled lens, the apartment in which the Cairn family resides could be any market-trading, publisher-dictating, money-horny Manhattanite's family bungalow. The rooms have respectably high ceilings, there's space for a big ol' piano, and there's even enough room for one of those nifty new fridges with enough compartments to be able to fit tons of leftovers from the Tribeca Grill. The halls look shadowy, and in the daytime the sun comes in basically as a vomit-colored fog. Only in an apartment with this sort of eerie ambience could a so-creepy-maybe-he's-the-devil child like Joshua Cairn be brought up by his insanely yuppie parents.

Director George Ratliff's shift into narrative cinema isn't completely unlike his hair-raising Trinity Church documentary Hell House. Though intriguingly unexplored, the idea of religious fundamentalism gets breached in a scene when the young Joshua (Jacob Kagon) takes a trip to church with his grandmother (Celia Weston). He later announces that he is prepared to accept Christ; his mother (Vera Farmiga) responds by reminding her mother-in-law and Joshua that she is a "big, fat Jew". The father (Sam Rockwell) takes his son's eccentricities and disturbing statements ("you don't have to love me") with a shambling good nature, only truly breaking down when the family dog dies. In a wicked twist, Ratliff only hints at the father's possible infidelity and revels in the lame AM radio rock he sings as he enters his apartment palace.

The first half of Joshua is all innuendo and intimation: there's never a minute where we actually witness the disturbing child doing anything specifically evil. Joshua, who has a knack for quietly coming up on people, attempts to mummify his pet panda and turns a talent-show rendition of "Twinkle Twinkle" into an abstract performance piece that wouldn't be out-of-place on a Scott Walker LP. Meanwhile, momma bear begins to go batty: Her newborn daughter won't stop crying, she's hearing people come through the ceiling, and her mental exhaustion has made it difficult for her to lactate. Her brother (Dallas Roberts) tries to help out by distracting the mother-in-law and being a surrogate father to Joshua, but it's to no avail. In a scene of pure creep, a mother-son game of hide-and-go-seek goes awry when the mother can't find either the son or her newborn.

Ratliff loses his focus in the second half of the film. Rather than holding us at arms-length as to whether it's just the overwhelming worries of the bourgeois parents or Joshua's actual evil causing all the havoc, the film becomes a sloppy cat-and-mouse ploy. Like other classic demon-child films (The Omen, Demon Seed), the film hinges on the stoic believability of the child in question, and Kogan does a solid job of keeping us in suspense of whether Joshua is just a weird kid or a real monster. The inevitable problem comes when Ratliff has to answer that question rather than just leaving us to wonder what's going on. That ultimately makes the film easily predictable and defuses the moments of suspense that are still to be had in the second half. Still, it's nice to see a film that returns to the psychological queasiness of films like Polanski's Rosemary's Baby, if only for an hour.

The devil wears Levi's.



Facts and Figures

Reviews

Contactmusic.com: 3 / 5

Cast & Crew

Director: George Ratliff

Producer: Johnathan Dorfman

Contactmusic


Links



Advertisement

New Movies

Colossal Movie Review

Colossal Movie Review

It's rare to find a movie that so defiantly refuses to be put into a...

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

King Arthur: Legend of the Sword Movie Review

It's unlikely that Guy Ritchie could make a boring movie if he wanted to. This...

Snatched Movie Review

Snatched Movie Review

It doesn't really matter that the script for this lively action-comedy is paper thin: teaming...

Jawbone Movie Review

Jawbone Movie Review

Boxing movies aren't usually this thoughtful. Sure, there are plenty of punchy moments in the...

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Whisky Galore! Movie Review

Scottish filmmaker Gillies MacKinnon (Hideous Kinky) remakes the 1949 Ealing comedy classic, although it's difficult...

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Alien: Covenant Movie Review

Master filmmaker Ridley Scott is back to continue the story 10 years after the events...

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

The Journey (2017) Movie Review

A fictionalised account of real events, this drama is reminiscent of Peter Morgan's work in...

Advertisement
Sleepless Movie Review

Sleepless Movie Review

In remaking the 2011 French thriller Sleepless Night, the filmmakers have dumbed down both the...

Unlocked Movie Review

Unlocked Movie Review

By injecting a steady sense of fun, this slick but mindless action thriller both holds...

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

Lady Macbeth Movie Review

A seriously impressive feature directing debut with a star-making central performance, this period British drama...

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

Guardians of the Galaxy Vol. 2 Movie Review

It was never going to be easy to match the impact of 2014's Guardians of...

The Promise Movie Review

The Promise Movie Review

The director of Hotel Rwanda, Terry George, turns to another humanitarian horror: the systematic murder...

Their Finest Movie Review

Their Finest Movie Review

Skilfully written, directed and acted, this offbeat British period film tells a story that catches...

Unforgettable Movie Review

Unforgettable Movie Review

With heavy echoes of trashy thrillers like Fatal Attraction, this movie overcomes its painfully simplistic...

Advertisement
Artists
Actors
    Filmmakers
      Artists
      Bands
        Musicians
          Artists
          Celebrities
             
              Artists
              Interviews
                musicians & bands in the news
                  actors & filmmakers in the news
                    celebrities in the news

                      Go Back in Time using our News archive to see what happened on a particular day in the past.