A lot or a little?
The parents' guide to what's in this movie.
What 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").
- Parents say
- Kids say
What's the story?
In this suspenseful psychological thriller, rich Manhattanites Brad and Abby Cairn (Sam Rockwell and Vera Farmiga) bring newborn Lily home to meet 9-year-old Joshua (Jacob Kogan), their handsome, talented son. But the family's happiness is short-lived. As an only child at the center of his family's attention, Joshua was able to soar, his manipulative, destructive nature kept in check. But Lily's arrival changes everything, drawing out Joshua's devious, ruthless nature. He's savvy to his parents' weaknesses: His mother has suffered from post-partum depression before, his father's under pressure at work, and so on. Combining his brilliant mind with an utter lack of conscience, Joshua methodically moves to regain the status quo. The tension builds, and the stakes get higher and higher as Joshua exploits his family's fragility and vulnerability.
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.
Talk to your kids about ...
Families can talk about the impact of implied violence in scary movies like this one. Are movies scarier when they show violent acts taking place on screen or when those acts are left to your imagination? Why? What statement is the film making about the nature of evil? Is Joshua purely bad, or is there any way he could be redeemed? How is his state of mind revealed by the music he plays? What role does music play in this movie and in other scary movies?
- In theaters: July 5, 2007
- On DVD or streaming: January 8, 2008
- Cast: Kevin Dorff, Sam Rockwell, Vera Farmiga
- Director: George Ratliff
- Studio: ATO Pictures
- Genre: Thriller
- Run time: 107 minutes
- MPAA rating: R
- MPAA explanation: language and some disturbing behavior by a child.
- Last updated: September 20, 2019
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