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Thursday, July 12, 2007

Joshua

Posted on Thu, Jul 12, 2007 at 4:00 AM

***1/2
Joshua
Studio: Fox Searchlight
Rated: R
Cast: Jacob Kogan, Sam Rockwell
Director: George Ratliff
WorkNameSort: Joshua
Our Rating: 3.50
The trailer for Joshua makes it look like some Hitchcockian take on The Omen. It's not. It's creepier than that, thanks mainly to the unexpected resolution that explains the odd behavior of the young, gifted and bizarre kid at the film's center. While the film persistently dangles the likelihood that Joshua (acted in near-autistic fashion by Jacob Kogan) is just jealous of his newborn sister, his jealousy runs far deeper than that, manifesting in some sinister (and occasionally awkward) moments. His happy-go-lucky stockbroker dad (Sam Rockwell) and verge-of-a-breakdown mom (Vera Farmiga, who engages in prime scene-chewing hysteria) are overwhelmed with their new baby, and the inexplicable antics of 9-year-old Joshua don't do much to help. (His grade-school recital ends up resembling a György Ligeti piano concerto.) When mom enters pill-popping, just-make-it-stop-crying mode and grandma comes to town to help out, the film kicks into high gear, with dark little Joshua doing his best to scare the shit out of everyone; his actions are as ominous and natural as they are violent and weird. The 'horror� here is dosed with humor and false starts that keep it remarkably and deceptively light, which is unfortunate. A smart, willful, bloodthirsty child is far more terrifying than any monster; Joshua does much to exploit that terror, but doesn't go far enough.

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