Aug 2008 04

Joshua is the title of a movie directed by George Ratliff and starring, Sam Rockwell, the father Brad Cairn (of Galaxy Quest and the Hitchhikers Guide to the Galaxy fame), Vera Farmiga, the mother Abby Cairn (Matt Damon’s love interest in the Departed), Dallas Roberts, the uncle Ned Davidoff (of 3:10 to Yuma fame), and Michael McDean, Brad Cairn’s boss at work (of A Mighty Wind, For Your Consideration and This Is Spinal Tap–and numerous TV series episodes fame), and introducing Jacob Kogan who plays Joshua in Joshua. Jacob Kogan is also slated to play Adolescent Spock in the soon to be released Star Trek 2009 which is in Post-Production.

Except for Jacob Kogan, these are recognizable, solid actors but none with plus or minus baggage that super stars or controversial actors tend to bring to any new movie or role. They therefore allow one to focus on the acting and the content of the movie. And this one is a really good one. One that had indicators to be another Omen or Exorcist type movie, but it actually takes the intellectual bedeviling impact rather than the gory, dismembering approach to scare the hell out of the viewer.

The movie starts out simple enough with the birth of Lilly, and the dotting parents, and the first child, Joshua—looking a little under appreciated and having to a take a backseat to the new addition. Without giving away too much of the highlights, things start to get weird when Joshua’s behavior starts to get stranger and stranger. Example, he’s cutting a stuffed bear’s insides out, explaining to his father, how sacrificing the heart will assure the bear’s happiness in the after life. The family dog comes turns up dead on the kitchen floor. And Joshua then teases his mother to play hide and seek, takes Lilly, which makes Abby frantic, lures her into the attic, locks her into darkness and essentially drives her into a screaming loony which explains why she is no longer in the movie because she was probably committed to an asylum. The father finally catches on when he catches Joshua trying to roll Lilly down some stairs in her baby stroller, just before his grandmother’s death, caused by stumbling down those same stairs.

The movie abruptly shifts to a cat and mouse game where Brad and Lilly are being stalked by Joshua. And Joshua soon sets up his father as the bad guy. The diabolical twists and in-your-face turns makes the viewer helpless because they can only watch Joshua get away with his treacherous act after sneaky, lowdown deceit. Is there no referee that can intervene here? Which reminds me–watching Joshua is very similar to watching pro wrestling—where the bad guy somehow distracts the referee all the while doing damage to the good guy wrestler. It is the good vs. evil scenario and Joshua plays it to the hilt. In his sweet little suit and red tie, he looks like a choir boy who can do no harm, but he is HARM personified.

I want to protect little Lilly from Joshua, but how can I do this? Joshua is devilish and will somehow ensnare me into his trickery. I love it. I hate it. JOSHUA! You Devil, YOU!

Joshua lives up to its intention of mesmerizing without grossing one out. It is therefore more insidious because it takes control and does not let go until it’s ready to let you go home, quietly, to think about how vulnerable you are—we are–to mind games with bad consequences. When a child does this to us, it is even more vexing. See Joshua for the great acting and emotional ride that will remind some of us of how our older sibling looked at us in the crib when we were so little and pretty much defenseless. And get ready for letting the devil into the details of a movie that delivers. See you at the movies.



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