Tuesday, June 7, 2011

Joshua (2007)

Fear 3/5
Gore 1/5
Entertainment 5/5
Creepiness 5/5

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


MarkusWelby1 said...

The great ones often come and go with little fanfare. I felt last year's "Splice" fit in to that category as well. I was intrigued by this cast, but still didn't know if it would be worthy of the time. I'm a huge "Omen" fan and will most likely be checking this out. cheers.

Emily said...

Totally with you on this one. It's SO creepy, and pretty pitch-perfect all around. I adore Vera Farmiga, and apparently she's the one to call when making a film about wealthy parents with a demon seed. The school concert scene is WEIRDLY horrifying. It's directed by the guy that did the fantastic documentary Hell House, and I really hope he does more genre stuff. My only qualm was similar to how I felt about The Omen remake: the kid was too obviously evil. I think it would've been more powerful if it was a tad more ambiguous.

Mike/All Things Horror said...

Loved this movie. Watched it when Ada was about three months old and the stress that Vera Farmiga conveyed really hit home, especially the scene where Joshua watches old home movie footage of her flipping out when e won't stop crying.

The ending left me a little confused


wouldn't the uncle go to the cops and tell them that the little bastard essentially confessed to him, albeit in song?

Still-it did add a creepy touch to the whole proceedings.

Planet of Terror said...

@Markus, definitely check it out. Not quite as gruesome in some regards as the Omen but no less creepy or unnerving.

@Emily, I bet myself a $100 that you had seen this. WINNER! That school scene was really odd. Yeah, the way he carried himself and spoke really marked him as an evil kid pretty much from the get-go. Had he started off more unassuming, I agree, it would have been an even more powerful film.

@Mike, I took the ending as the uncle being just as oblivious as dear ol' dad. It probably went right over his head. Glad you dug it too.

Matt-suzaka said...

I've been wanting to check out Joshua for a while, and incidentally, I just bought a used copy for $2.50 at this crusty, but awesome, video store that I frequent. Your review has impeccable timing!