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

Contactmusic 2017 Exclusive

New Movies

Hidden Figures Movie Review

Hidden Figures Movie Review

This film recounts such a great true story that we don't mind the fact that...

The Founder Movie Review

The Founder Movie Review

This is the story of Ray Kroc, the man who created the concept of McDonald's....

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

John Wick: Chapter 2 Movie Review

Keanu Reeves picks up his supremely efficient hitman immediately where the 2015 original left him:...

Fences Movie Review

Fences Movie Review

After winning Tony Awards on Broadway, Denzel Washington and Viola Davis reteam for a film...

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

The Lego Batman Movie Movie Review

A spin-off from 2014's awesome The Lego Movie, this raucously paced action-comedy is proof that...

The Space Between Us Movie Review

The Space Between Us Movie Review

While the premise of this movie makes it look like a sci-fi adventure, the truth...

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

Toni Erdmann Movie Review

On paper, the idea of a two-hour 40-minute German comedy may not seem very promising,...

Advertisement
Gold Movie Review

Gold Movie Review

Based on a true story, this lively and sometimes outrageous adventure is packed with twists...

Loving Movie Review

Loving Movie Review

While this film tackles a huge issue in the history of race relations in America,...

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

T2 Trainspotting Movie Review

It's been 20 years since we last saw four freewheeling young junkies from Edinburgh spiral...

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Hacksaw Ridge Movie Review

Based on an astounding true story, this battlefield drama mixes warm emotion with intense action...

Sing Movie Review

Sing Movie Review

The quality of the animation in this musical comedy may not be up to Pixar...

Jackie Movie Review

Jackie Movie Review

Rather than make a standard biopic about the most famous First Lady in American history,...

Split Movie Review

Split Movie Review

After a few badly received sci-fi blockbusters, M. Night Shyamalan returned to his earthier style...

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.