Joshua DVD Review: The Scary Perfect Child
By Prairie Miller
Bursting arteries and guts do not necessarily make for the most effective horror. The kid freakfest Joshua is just that sort of much less can be more terror ride. Here the creepy concept is the perfect child - a well mannered, bright and talented, essentially miniature adult. Joshua (Jacob Cairn) is the new Bad Seed for the 21st century. But the fear this elegant little precocious preppie monster inspires is far beyond surface details. It's the universal dread of every parent that no matter the best of intentions, have I possibly given birth to a psychopath - a future serial killer or mass murderer.
There is one glitch in Joshua's seemingly unblemished evolving resume. His mother (Vera Farmiga) suffered through post-partum depression with her first born son. Now the nine year old is also about to encounter, seemingly unaware, an intense yet overtly unexpressed sibling rivalry when mom brings home a new baby sister. So it's almost a replay of the traumatic rejection issues he experienced at birth. The fact that the family enjoys a prosperous, uneventful Upper Manhattan existence and Joshua attends an elite academy, does not alleviate whatever pathology is churning inside him.
Soon the baby is suffering unrelenting crying tantrums, mom's medication seems to be pushing her over the edge psychologically, animals are dying mysteriously, and Joshua's Wall Street hotshot trader dad (Sam Rockwell) is beginning to suspect the worst of his son. And enough to drive him to irrepressible impulses of his own to harm the kid.
The stress that mounts throughout this strangely tame and quietly spooky horror thriller has a masterfully palpable asphyxiating mood to it that director George Ratliff exploits for maximum audience discomfort and unrelieved dread. The problem is that the tension of both the narrative and emotionally dense atmosphere never leads to any clear psychological resolution, as if the story were abruptly cut off before its designated ending. Don't be surprised then, if Joshua returns for a premeditated sequel.
20th Century Fox Home Entertainment
Audio Commentaries by Writer/Director George Ratliff and co-screenwriter David Gilbert
1. Six Deleted Scenes
2. Extended Scenes
Behind the Scenes - Jacob Kogan's Audition Tapes
1. Sam Rockwell - Star
2. Vera Farmiga - Star
3. Jacob Kogan - Star
4. George Ratliff - Director
5. Johnathan Dorfman - Producer
6. George Paaswell - Co-Producer
7. Roshelle Berliner - Production Designer
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