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Joshua: Eerie Little Family Drama

Watching Joshua, I was struck with the sense of no longer being in this time period — even though the movie is set in present day Manhattan. There's something old-fashioned, slow-building and just-under-the-surface eerie about the film, and in that way it differs from your average mainstream thriller. Not much happens, and the gradual building of suspense requires quite a bit of patience. But if you're a fan of old Hitchcock films, Joshua is a satisfying modern option.

Well-off Manhattan parents Brad (Sam Rockwell) and Abby (Vera Farmiga) have a beautiful life: They live in a gorgeous apartment on the Upper East Side, have a son Joshua (Jacob Kogan) who appears to be a kind of child prodigy, and just brought home a baby girl, Lily. As soon as Lily arrives in the house, however, their perfect lives start to slowly unravel and ultimately spiral wildly out of control. To find out what starts to happen,

Lily takes to crying for hours on end, wearing at Abby's sanity. It doesn't help that Joshua, a creepy, precocious child, has started acting out in bizarre ways, purportedly on account of his new baby sister joining the family. But Joshua's behavior takes a sinister turn, and as he plays mind games with his father, we feel at times sorry for the boy or baffled by his cold actions. Both his parents are ultimately — and frighteningly — rendered helpless to his manipulations.

What I found most intriguing about the movie was its disturbingly naturalistic vibe. This isn't a movie about supernatural or paranormal activity. They never explore the idea that the child is possessed by the devil, though his problems also don't stem from some kind of drug or brainwashing. And yet his behavior is far beyond that of a normal older sibling trying to come to terms with a new kid in the family. As producer Jonathan Dorfman is quoted as saying in the press materials, "The idea that a kid might be bad for no apparent reason is one of our scariest thoughts." The filmmakers clearly play on this fear in the movie, and they bring the uneasiness of this idea to a harrowing — if quiet — pitch.

Photos courtesy of Fox Searchlight

Join The Conversation
SoftRockStar SoftRockStar 10 years
I'm going to see this one!
dcmurray1970 dcmurray1970 10 years
saw this movie advertised. thought it looked creepy. cant wait to see it.
Schaianne Schaianne 10 years
Sounds like a great movie! Thanks for the review!!
Megatron Megatron 10 years
I am so in!!
pinkflats pinkflats 10 years
oh man this is the kind of thriller i like. you know the ones you think you know what's going on but then something happens in the movie that leaves you confused and scared at the same time. a scary movie that has moviegoers thinking, i love it. sort of reminded me of The Sixth Sense or The Others.
GiggleSugar GiggleSugar 10 years
Did someone say, "creepy, precocious child"?! Sign me up-- looks good, Buzz!
helenette helenette 10 years
cant wait to see this
girlboy girlboy 10 years
mary poppins would give him a spoonful of sugar
ddene5713 ddene5713 10 years
sounds like a lifetime movie i saw YEARRRS ago. it as about a girl that started tormenting her little sister b/c she wasn't getting the attention and also killing animals. creepy.
ktownpolarbear ktownpolarbear 10 years
sounds interesting . . . .
Linda-McP Linda-McP 10 years
Looking forward to seeing this film. Thanks for the great review, Buzz.
Taissa and Vera Farmiga at Hollywood Reporter Breakfast 2016
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