2007-08-03 / Columnists

MovieScope

'Joshua' - Creep Show
Review By Robert Snyder

With the Columbine, Virginia Tech and now, Connetquot nightmares still in the collective consciousness, it's easy to see why filmmakers want to focus on psycho teens.

A sleeper sliding in and out of theaters this summer is "Joshua." While it may not be "Rosemary's Baby" or even "The Omen," it provides its share of chills, particularly in the person of Jacob Kogan in the title role, as a kid so creepy that he makes you jump by simply appearing in a doorway.

Well-groomed to psychotic perfection, Joshua Cairn should be the child every parent hopes to have. At nine-yearsold, he's brilliant, immaculate of manners, quiet, unassuming and a hell of a concert pianist (in the living room, anyway).

In fact, he seems to be so together that he is easy to ignore. Which is exactly what his newly super-rich parents, Brad (Sam Rockwell) and Abby (Vera Farmiga), do after sister Lily is born. In an early scene, Joshua elegantly plays Bartók in the family's Edwardian New York apartment, almost unbeknownst to Mom, Dad, hip Uncle Ned (Dallas Roberts) and friends, who are fawning over the new baby. It is much like cocker spaniel Lady being put out in the doghouse, when a human bundle of joy takes her place of honor in "Lady and the Tramp." You can't help but feel somewhat sorry for Joshua, who repeatedly makes impassive declarations of love to his nonplussed parents.

Joshua's method of retribution is as sophisticated and accomplished as his piano playing. He slowly and systematically drives his parents crazy. Along the way, he manages to kill his grandmother Hazel (Celia Weston), a kindly but ditzy evangelical, who makes the mistake of leaving Joshua alone with the baby at a Manhattan museum. The wunderkind also plays a lethal version of hide-and-seek with his postpartumdepressed, sleep-deprived mother.

Dad catches on to his son's scheme and takes time away from making big hedge fund money to seize control of the household. But by then, Joshua has a child psychiatrist convinced that Brad is an abuser.

When evil mixes with high intelligence, be afraid - be very afraid. It can be found anywhere…in your home, high school, hills of Afghanistan or in your local movie theater.

Go to "Joshua" and see it thrive in one of the cinema's creepiest kids.

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