MOVIE: **1/2 (out of 5)
DVD EXPERIENCE: *** (out of 5)
Sam Rockwell as BRAD CAIRN
Vera Farmiga as ABBY CAIRN
Celia Weston as HAZEL CAIRN
Dallas Roberts as NED DAVIDOFF
Michael McKean as CHESTER JENKINS
Jacob Kogan as JOSHUA CAIRN
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Directed by: George Ratliff
BY KEVIN CARR
Evil children are a staple in Hollywood films. The most notable would be Damien from “The Omen,” but many more little the landscape of cinema. Now there’s a new demon child in town – Joshua.
Fox Searchlight led the studios last year with releases acquired at the Sundance Film Festival. While movies like “Waitress” made a bigger splash, and others like “Juno” topped the chart with audience and awards, some got lost in the shuffle. “Joshua” was one of those films.
The movie follows a New York family dealing with the birth of their second child. Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga play Brad and Abby, parents who are struggling with post-partum depression and general modern New York guilt. This becomes the tool of their first child, Joshua (Jacob Kogan), who begins to dement into a evil little child.
The stand-out features of “Joshua” are also its downfall. On one hand, I think it’s impressive to make a demon child movie without showing the child as a full-blown demon. You never see Joshua commit the acts of violence, and the circumstantial evidence the viewer sees is what incriminates him. However, this doesn’t play well for a thriller considering it softens the villain for an otherwise savvy audience.
Additionally, the destruction of the family is confused in their own issues. In the end, it’s hard to tell whether Joshua’s evil is a result of a bad seed or a result of a family that just can’t get their crap together. Abby suffers from severe depression, which is not new to her. Brad struggles with being a modern, enlightened New Yorker that juggles work with fatherhood. Whether or not an evil child comes in the mix, I’m not sure if these folks would survive normal daily life.
“Joshua” is a so-so thriller and a so-so drama. It pulls its punches on either genre and leaves us with an undercommitted story. It’s a film more for people who don’t want the traditional thriller.
Special features on the DVD include quite a bit of behind-the-scenes content. There’s a commentary featuring director George Ratliff and co-writer David Gilbert, cast and crew interviews, clips from an internet advertising campaign, the audition for Jacob Kogan, deleted scenes, the theatrical trailer and a Dave Matthews music video.