The Good Son

Movie review by
Barbara Shulgasser-Parker, Common Sense Media
The Good Son Movie Poster Image
Creepy '90s thriller about murderous kid has violence.
  • R
  • 1993
  • 87 minutes

Parents say

age 17+
Based on 2 reviews

Kids say

age 13+
Based on 7 reviews

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A lot or a little?

The parents' guide to what's in this movie.

Positive Messages

Even people who seem sweet may be evil underneath. Sometimes evil can be thwarted.

Positive Role Models & Representations

Mark tries to keep everyone around him safe from Henry's secret threat. Henry is self-absorbed and evil, certain no one will believe the truth about him.


The drowning death of a young child is mentioned several times. A young boy's mother dies of an illness. A young girl is deliberately flung onto thin ice, which cracks as she falls into frigid water. She is rescued. A boy uses a homemade bolt-shooting crossbow to kill a dog. The boy also creates a human-sized doll that he throws onto highway traffic to maliciously create a 10-car pile-up. A woman is pushed off a cliff but survives. Two others fall over a cliff and one dies. A boy holds a scissor to another boy's neck.  It's implied that a boy has poisoned his family's food.


"F--k" and "hell."

Drinking, Drugs & Smoking


What parents need to know

Parents need to know that the ironically titled The Good Son is an extremely tense and scary 1993 thriller that borders on the verge of horror. The twist here is the notion that a child can embody murderous evil. Despite the youth of the cast, younger viewers may find the boy's actions too disturbing. A woman's death by illness and a child's death by drowning are mentioned. Someone is pushed off a cliff and a dog is shot with a homemade crossbow. The dog's death is heard but not seen. A boy holds a scissor to another boy's neck. It's implied that a boy has poisoned his family's food. Expect to hear "f--k" and "hell."

User Reviews

  • Parents say
  • Kids say
Adult Written bySpencer H. November 10, 2019

Pretty obvious this one isn't for young kids

It's pretty obvious if anyone ever saw any ads or read about this film this is no "Home Alone". The only thing this has in common with that film... Continue reading
Parent of a 18+ and 18+-year-old Written bythompsonn1 June 10, 2018
Kid, 11 years old April 7, 2021

Nothing a mature 11 year old couldn't handle

Me and my mom watched this and she told me I could watch it if I promised not to become a murder if Macaulay Calucan did in the movie. I was a... Continue reading
Teen, 16 years old Written by03Sheldonerdmov... January 7, 2020

Mature Culkin thriller is more PG-13 than R

Culkin plays this kid who commits homicidal crimes. His beliefs behind it are "Once you believe you can do anything, you're free." I have always... Continue reading

What's the story?

THE GOOD SON is Henry (Macaulay Culkin), a violent child who hides his disturbing desire to kill with politeness and seemingly sensible behavior. Dramatic tension is constant as viewers contend with the threat he poses while his parents have no idea about the destruction he's already caused and his plans for more dangerous antisocial behavior. The boy puts on an act of sweetness and empathy but at his core he's cruel, unfeeling, and murderous. As he lays groundwork to blame his crimes on his visiting cousin Mark (Elijah Wood), he makes the case that no adults will believe stories of what he's done. Henry argues that instead, such claims will be treated as vindictive lies and get the tattletale in trouble. Mark sees no way out except to try to defend and rescue Henry's parents and sister from the threat Henry poses to them. Spoiler alert: After an unrelenting 87-minute's worth of tension and worry, it may be reassuring to know that, at the last minute, Henry's evil is revealed and resolved, albeit violently.

Is it any good?

The Good Son is a well-constructed thriller that achieves sustained tension by means of deft direction, sharp plotting, and excellent performances, especially by two child actors, Culkin and Wood. Wendy Crewson as Susan, Mark's aunt and Henry's mother, gives a persuasive performance as a grieving parent still trying to give her love and support to her remaining children. Culkin was 13 at the time the movie was released but looks far younger, and Wood was 12. Despite the draw of young performers, some teens may find this too intense.

Talk to your kids about ...

  • Families can talk about what to do if a family member has mental problems. What would you do if you learned that someone close to you had mental health issues that caused the person to be violent?

  • How does this movie create tension? Did you find yourself hoping that adults would learn the truth about Henry?

  • What's the appeal of scary movies?

Movie details

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