Sam Rockwell, Vera Farmiga, Jacob Kogan
Chester: Don’t you know you never beat up your kid in public on the weekend!?
Brad (Rockwell) and Abby (Farmiga) have just had a new daughter, Lily, and their young son, Joshua (Kogan) begins acting strange. Very strange. Evil strange.
This is an interesting movie in that it leaves you to make up your own mind as to whether little Joshua is some sort of supernatural satanic devil child, or if he’s just a really smart, mean kid who is jealous of the attention this new baby in the house is getting. In some ways it would be more comforting if his eyes were red and he had some crazy powers or something, but none of that happens. He just gradually drives his family apart using psychological means. I find that much more unsettling.
Jacob Kogan definitely does a good job of making the audience feel uneasy with the inflection of his voice and the subtle, conniving looks he gives. Sam Rockwell is good, as always, and even brings a few moments of comedy to the movie. It’s not easy to interject lighthearted moments into a serious movie, but if anybody can do it, it’s Sam Rockwell.
I also have to mention that Vera Farmiga is very good as Abby, Joshua’s poor mother. She was driven nearly crazy (literally) by Joshua’s constant crying when he was a baby, but she loves how quiet and peaceful Lily is. That is, until one night she mysteriously starts crying and doesn’t stop for days and days. Does Joshua have something to do with this? Hmmm. Farmiga was convincing going from anger to attempts at motherly love and then, finally, insanity.
The movie is not without its faults though. The segment with little Lily’s constant crying had the same affect on me as it did on Abby. Well, maybe not as severely, but I still felt like that section of the movie dragged on a bit too long. As did the movie as a whole. Plus, there’s a critical plot point that I found frustrating. I won’t reveal too much about it, but I’ll just say that there’s an obvious piece of evidence that could be used by Brad to prove that Joshua is up to something, but he never even brings it up. That annoyed me.
Overall, though, it looks good, is acted well, and has a creepy atmosphere throughout (especially the eerie piano recital scene where Joshua plays a warped version of Twinkle Twinkle Little Star), even if the final scene is more just plain strange than creepy.
I think it’s pretty obvious: don’t have kids.
10 – 1.1 for dragging at times – 1.5 for some inexplicable character behavior – .6 for an underwhelming finale = 6.8