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A Lot or a Little?
What you will—and won't—find in this movie.
Evil triumphs over good. Intelligent, loving parents are no match for a child with a deadly agenda and without a conscience. Superior brain power and artistic genius are equated with stop-at-nothing wickedness. A Christian fundamentalist is portrayed as well-meaning but narrow-minded and cluelessly ineffectual.
Violence & Scariness
Much of the actual destructive behavior is implied and takes place off camera. A dead woman is shown with pooling blood around her. Animals die under suspicious circumstances. The lead female character is graphically seen stepping on broken glass. Child is beaten by father.
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Sex, Romance & Nudity
One scene of affectionate sexual foreplay between husband and wife. No nudity. A new mother is shown using a breast-pump.
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Plenty of swearing: "F--k," "bulls--t," etc.
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Drinking, Drugs & Smoking
Casual drinking: wine at dinner, a champagne toast. In one scene, a lead character drinks when upset.
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Parents Need to Know
Parents need to know that this is a very scary movie about evil triumphing over good. The most vulnerable creatures -- animals, a newborn baby, loving parents and grandparents -- are stalked, threatened, and destroyed by a little boy who uses his extraordinary intelligence to wreak havoc on the world around him. There are upsetting deaths and some blood, though much of the actual destructive violence is implied and takes place off screen. Some drinking and swearing (including "f--k"). To stay in the loop on more movies like this, you can sign up for weekly Family Movie Night emails.
Is It Any Good?
Crafted with skill, intelligence, and a keen awareness of what makes an audience shiver and squirm, JOSHUA is a tight, suspenseful psychological thriller. In Joshua, director George Ratliff has created a parent's worst nightmare -- an evil character as memorable as The Omen's Damien or even Hannibal Lecter.
There's not much overt violence, but the audience is always aware of the danger. Still, though, the filmmakers are able to keep viewers guessing. Isn't it possible that each ominous incident could be explained by either coincidence or innocent misunderstanding? Aside from a very few missteps (for example, the appearance of an odd, illogical videotape), Joshua succeeds on every level. Music, lighting, creative direction, and masterful editing all serve the characters and the plot.
Did we miss something on diversity?
Research shows a connection between kids' healthy self-esteem and positive portrayals in media. That's why we've added a new "Diverse Representations" section to our reviews that will be rolling out on an ongoing basis. You can help us help kids by suggesting a diversity update.
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Our Editors Recommend
Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are created by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.See how we rate