About a deranged Kid with depressed Mother? I think I saw a similar Movie, lot far too better than this one.
The undercurrents of a dysfunctional family are subtle - it came as no surprise that the mother had post-partum after Joshua's birth, and while the father seems so gung ho, he somehow comes off as oddly distant (even though he seems to be always there and a somewhat attentive father).
The underplay of religious overtones is the right measure and I enjoyed the way Joshua slowly ramped up the volume, first taking care of his mother (a revelation at the end that he had been tampering with her meds), then, when his attempt at getting rid of his sister is thwarted, he pushes his grandmother down the stairs instead.
His end game play against his father was well done and the creepy final scene with his uncle sent shivers, as did the earlier scene where he innocently backs away from his distracted mother, causing her to move forward and into a field of broken glass.
It's hard for me to discuss this at length, because most of it is spoiler material. Try overlapping the traits of Joshua's family members, parents and relatives alike, and some things will start to make a lot more sense. An intelligent but slightly devious father and a feverishly determined mother, specifically, seems to be the recipe to create a child who wants his way and knows many paths to get it. For added flavor, add fundamentalist grandparents and a sexually ambiguous uncle. Once you start taking apart the elements of his family life, some of the movie's gummier parts make a hell of a lot more sense, especially the jarring ending.
And thus, Joshua is created. He is a pitiable character; not sympathetic, Lord no, but there were scenes where I felt pretty damn bad for the kid. He's completely miserable and the only way for him to fix that is to wreck a lot of people's lives. He is crazy, but he knows what he needs to be happy. If you don't understand what these needs are, pay close attention to certain scenes, such as the piano recital and the dialogue Joshua has with his dad about sports and being "weird." Kid's deeply damaged.
Turning an eye to the rest of the family is just as rewarding; there is really a lot to be probed in these strange, miserable people. The success of all of these characters is 50% the brilliant screenplay by George Ratliff and 50% the equally brilliant performances by all players involved. Sam Rockwell is totally seamless as always, selling his part with an energy that is both intelligent and darkly comic. Vera Farmiga's something new: there is a raw, realistic quality about her acting here, which can make her seem a little off-putting, but she's just a lot less mawkish than the part seems to call for. One thing I'd change about Joshua is that I wish there was more for Abby Cairn to do aside from scream and cry, but that's...her personality, like it or not. Celia Weston is reliably great; Dallas Roberts sells a small part quite well. Jacob Kogan's performance is interesting, because the character he spins is profoundly awkward and you can never really tell if that was the purpose of his portrayal, or just amateurish acting. I give him the benefit of the doubt, simply because of a handful of absolutely chilling scenes that I can't see any other child actors pulling off.
The last thing that I really loved about this film, surprisingly, was the cinematography. Joshua is an awesome-looking movie. The set design reflects the feel of the film immaculately, creating an apartment that seems well-worn but reveals itself to be totally sterile (which even the movie makes note of.) Camera tricks themselves are impressive, whether it's the sprinkling of jittery tracking shots or the evocative, lingering still images. It is really a treat to see a movie in this genre look so unique.
I was sure I'd like this movie before I even saw it, because I read it for what it was - a slow-burning, evil drama about a screwy family. And that's what Joshua is. Not a horror film, not a slasher, not an Omen clone. A sleek, angry dissertation of one fucked-up kid and the tiny things wrecking him.
I thought that maybe this would be a re-hash of the age-old creepy boy story: the Omen, meets The Ring meets Birth. But no. It was a completely new and, altogether, original take on the familiar premise.
The story isn't so much about a deranged boy and his desire to wreak havoc; it's about a boy's desire to be loved. Take that desire and turn it into an obsession and you've got Joshua.
I won't divulge much else about the story. But, suffice it to say, it's a very good film. The script is amazing and the score will haunt you and send shivers down your spine.
The performance turned in by little Jacob Kogan is a knockout. It is a much more well-rounded and "human" approach to a character that has been played by seemingly mute child actors who must rely solely on their off-putting appearance in order to scare. In this movie, the very essence of who this little man is is why the movie is so haunting and permeating.
Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga also bring gravitas to the film and brilliance to roles that could've also fallen in the same category of hapless victim (from movies like The Omen.)
This movie manages to bring something new to the table and keeps you on the edge of your seat--all at once.
Joshua: I don't feel sick.
A psychological thriller in the vain of The Bad Seed or The Omen, but with none of the supernatural stuff.
There are a lot of different kinds of horror movies and thrillers. I really like watching them, but don't get scared...except with creepy kid movies. I wouldn't say scared, but something about these creepy kids gives me...well...the creeps.
The movie revolves around a wealthy New York family who have just given birth to their second child. Their first child, Joshua, meanwhile is developing creepy new qualities.
Things start to mix more as the mother, played by Vera Farmiga, suffers from Post-Partum depression.
The main problem with this movie lies in the fact that Joshua is never given a large reason to be evil, or at least the problem is not developed enough. Despite this, Joshua is played with all kinds of great creepy intensity that is believable.
The other thing that makes this movie work is Sam Rockwell. Rockwell is cool in all of his movies, so seeing him play the father and having an all out battle of wits throughout the second half of this movie is worthwhile.
Although it is a psychological character study, it works better as the twisted dark comedy involving Rockwell and Joshua. The movie is very dark, with a great amount of tension being built from subtlety, including the score.
The movie doesn't necessarily do anything new with the creepy kid movie, but it is an effective creepy kid movie, and Rockwell is pretty awesome.
Joshua: No one will ever love you again.
[font=Century Gothic]There is much to be admired in "Joshua" as an intelligent exploration of postpartum depression and a much needed deromanticization of parenthood. But the overall creepiness of the movie(so much so, that I was considering getting a vasectomy, just to be on the safe side) defuses some of that, pushing the film perilously close to Roman Polanski territory. I am also troubled that it aims some of the blame back at the parents as they have raised Joshua without religious instruction, which can be interpreted by some as a lack of moral guidance.[/font]
The foreshadowing of the terror yet to come is peppered throughout it's first half, but it mostly focuses on the mother character, and the trauma her family causes her. After that's resolved in a rather chilling manner, the movie's focus shifts to Joshua, who is revealed as the cunning little monster he truly is.
Another reason why I didn't like this as much as I thought I would was because it wasn't as disturbing as I was hoping it would be.
On the plus side, the performances were fantastic from all involved, particularly Sam Rockwell as Josh's dad and Jacob Kogan as Joshua himself. The performances alone are why this is worth at least one viewing. Just don't expect anything gut-wrenching if you decide to see it. If anything, the movie feels longer than it really is.