Tuesday, June 7, 2011
This film should be receiving more fanfare. If there's room in the horror classics category for recent creepy kid films like The Children and Orphan, then Joshua certainly deserves a spot right alongside.
From the start, it's like the filmmaker is messing with the viewer as I'm sure most (when starting the film or viewing the trailer) instantly have visions of little Damien dancing in their heads. As a matter of fact, I'm 110% positive that the filmmaker is playing into our notion of the creepy, possessed, driven by Satan kid. We're introduced to our family who have just welcomed a new born daughter into their lives. Their nine year old son is immediately shown to have a strangeness about him both in how he talks and how he engages his family members. He takes to playing the piano as mom and dad talk to grandma. This is clearly a kid of a certain smarts and born into a certain lifestyle (namely, rich and privileged). Talks of religion begin with grandma being a bit of a bible pusher but mom and dad won't have anything to do with baptizing the infant. Exhibit A in the case of the filmmaker beginning to mess with us. Exhibit B comes in the form of mom (played by Vera Farmiga) who's sporting Mia Farrow hair a la Rosemary's Baby. And it's uncanny how much she bears a resemblance to her. Coincidence? I think not.
It's not too long before we see little Joshua becoming jealous of the baby. After all, he's been the center of attention for so long. Initially, comments and facial expressions here and there don't do much other than display your typical older kid being jealous of the new one. But things take a far more sinister turn when the oblivious dad (Sam Rockwell) starts hearing choking sounds over the baby's monitor.
Things reach a point where actions can no longer be ignored when the killing of the family dog occurs at the hands of Joshua. Dad is still in denial saying he couldn't possibly have done it but mom at this point has flipped out. So much so, that she constantly interrupts dad at work and has turned to full-on paranoia at each and every one of Joshua's actions. It's obvious he's purposefully messing with her. As a result, daddy has to put her in a 'special' home.
A turn for the far worse occurs when Joshua is taken to the local museum with grandma and little sister in tow. Back at home, dad gets an inkling that something just isn't right with Joshua when he picks up the family camera and plays a video recording of Joshua, standing over his sister's crib with a menacing look about him. He rushes to the museum and is greeted by Joshua, pushing the stroller to the edge of the steps which lead up to the museum, grandma running as fast as she can behind. He catches him at the top of the stairs, picks up the stroller and momentarily turns his back, leaving Joshua and grandma standing at the top of the stairs. You can probably guess what happens next. Things culminate with dad taking things out on little Joshua, quite literally as he assaults him in public. This lands daddy in trouble and Joshua in the hands of another caretaker. All seems right until he approaches a piano in his new home, begins to play, and looks into the camera with a grin breaking his face.
With great performances and a foreboding sense of dread throughout, Joshua is a nerve racking little thriller. Not for the blood and guts crowd but if you dig the creepy kid flick, this one delivers. And it may make you think twice about having one.
Cortez the Killer