Joshua Movie Poster Image

Joshua

(i)

 

Sinister sibling-rivalry drama is majorly creepy.
  • Review Date: January 8, 2008
  • Rated: R
  • Genre: Thriller
  • Release Year: 2007
  • Running Time: 107 minutes

What parents need to know

Positive messages

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

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.

Sex

One scene of affectionate sexual foreplay between husband and wife. No nudity. A new mother is shown using a breast-pump.

Language

Plenty of swearing: "F--k," "bulls--t," etc.

Consumerism
Not applicable
Drinking, drugs, & smoking

Casual drinking: wine at dinner, a champagne toast. In one scene, a lead character drinks when upset.

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").

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?

QUALITY

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.

Families can talk 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?

Movie details

Theatrical release date:July 5, 2007
DVD release date: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.

This review of Joshua was written by

Common Sense Media's unbiased ratings are conducted by expert reviewers and aren't influenced by the product's creators or by any of our funders, affiliates, or partners.

Quality

Our star rating assesses the media's overall quality.

Find out more

Learning ratings

  • Best: Really engaging; great learning approach.
  • Very Good: Engaging; good learning approach.
  • Good: Pretty engaging; good learning approach.
  • Fair: Somewhat engaging; OK learning approach.
  • Not for Learning: Not recommended for learning.
  • Not for Kids: Not age-appropriate for kids; not recommended for learning.

Find out more

About these links

Common Sense Media, a nonprofit organization, earns a small affiliate fee from Amazon or iTunes when you use our links to make a purchase. Thank you for your support.

Read more

About Our Rating System

The age displayed for each title is the minimum one for which it's developmentally appropriate. We recently updated all of our reviews to show only this age, rather than the multi-color "slider." Get more information about our ratings.

Great handpicked alternatives

  • Keep children away from this scary classic.
  • Good but creepy; may be too intense for some.

What parents and kids say

See all user reviews

Share your thoughts with other parents and kids Write a user review

A safe community is important to us. Please observe our guidelines

Teen, 15 years old Written byhaleybugg April 9, 2008
Adult Written bymoviepro411 April 9, 2008

Similar to "the good son"

This movie has a similar plot to "the good son," which is an insanely creepy movie. Both are good with popcorn and a majorly comfy chair. Very scary, absolutely not for kids under 14 at the very youngest.
Teen, 13 years old Written byMiistukk19 December 31, 2008

Boring...

Not scary... almost not disturbing... BORING! Just a stupid kid who makes you wanna slap his face to wise him up!, an irresponsible mother and a silly dad that is cheated by his son ... Extremely boring... +o(

Poll

Did our review help you make an informed decision about this product?

Family Media Agreement