I went and saw the indie thriller “Joshua” on Sunday, and I didn’t know what to expect. I was slightly excited because I was going to see a movie that shared my name but I also remember watching the Sundance special in the winter on IFC and they featured it and it seemed like something to keep an eye on.
I went and saw the film I had such a range of terrified emotions afterwards, it is hard to explain. Simply put, the film is a harrowing look at parenting. Young Joshua, played by the spinetinglingly impressive newcomer Jacob Kogan, is an awkward 9-year-old boy who still calls his parents Mommy and Daddy. Mom and Dad are played spectacularly by the beautiful Vera Farmiga and the amazing Sam Rockwell. The film begins with the family welcoming a new baby girl, and then as the movie progresses we learn about all the issues of this family that all stem from the eerie Joshua.
The movie is impressive on many levels. First of all, it features pitch perfect acting. Sam Rockwell’s character goes into a downward spiral through the whole film. At the beginning, Rockwell is his ordinary cool self (something he tends to overplay) but then when he starts to lose it, the acting chops are strongly featured. You can feel the madness in him. Jacob Kogan definitely proves his never-before-seen talent as Joshua. The young actor delivers every line perfectly, while keeping a creepy straight face. When you watch him walk, you feel chills at his adult like strides and his oddly ironed look. He is someone to watch.
The real star of this film, the biggest reason I loved the film, was Vera Farmiga. She is an actress to be watched. She plays the seriously disturbed mother with excellence. I couldn’t keep my eyes away from her in almost every scene she was in. I got completely lost in astonishment with her. One moment she will be normal and the next she will be absolutely crazy. This is my favorite performance from her thus far and at this point I will watch her in any film. She is a revelation.
Another reason this film really hit me was its strong script. The movie could have just easily been another “Omen”-esque knockoff but its script, written by director George Ratliff and David Gilbert, is bewildering. After the first 15 minutes, I was pulled in for every scene that followed. The most expertly written characters are Joshua and his mother, especially a scene in which the two play a fateful game of hide and seek. At the end of the scene we see the real horror of Joshua that is just play creepy. The writers really thought through the madness of Joshua. He’s an incredibly smart boy who plans everything out and has no good intentions no matter what you want to believe.
For me, the film doesn’t falter once. I had read that the ending ruined the whole film but I felt that it was the perfect way to end the film. A creepy look from the kid at the end would have been totally cliche but we are left still wondering why this kid is so evil. He holds the whole world in his hands and he knows it. Joshua is only concerned with himself, and he has no mercy.
A lot of people might watch this film and just call it an “Omen” knockoff but I strongly disagree. The source of evil is unknown and that’s what makes it so peculiarly scary. I still can’t believe how much this movie plays around with fear. It is bizarre yet simple. Watching “Joshua” was an unreal experience and I advise anybody to see it. I give “Joshua” an: