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Wednesday, 6 January 2010

HE'S A WRONG 'UN

Do you know what I watched recently?

Television.

Do you know what else I watched recently?

Sky Player, via Xbox Live. Or more specifically, MOVIES on Sky Player via Xbox Live. Or even more specifically, JOSHUA from the Movie section of Sky Player via Xbox Live.

Starring the ever-dependable SAM ROCKWELL, and some broad channeling Mia Farrow in Rosemary's Baby, Joshua is notable as a horror film primarily because it doesn't feel like a horror film. But more on that in a sec.

Joshua is nine years old, polite, and very smart. He's also incredibly wrong in the noodle. When his parents bring him his new baby sister, he starts getting weirder, and weirder, and weirder. First, he starts asking his parents if they love him because he's strange, then he gets heavily into Egyptian history and mythology (leading to a cool "What are you doing?" scene with a beloved panda teddy bear) and finally he starts manipulating those around him to make them think they're all mental.

One of the highlights of the film happens fairly early on - Joshua is due to play piano at his fancy school. All the kids on before him are bloody awful musicians, so his parents are sat there, nice and smug because they know how talented little Joshua is. And then he starts playing.

Instead of the beautiful, yet melancholic piece he's been studiously learning for weeks, he starts playing Twinkle Twinkle Little Star. Everyone, least of all his parents, are bemused to start with...until he starts purposefully inserting wonky pitch changes and the music descends into an atonal mess. In fact, JOSHUA has two types of sound used copiously throughout it: morbid piano and crying baby. Both are used to sinister/claustrophobic effect and help develop a palpable sense of unease that never lets up throughout the film.

Why is Joshua 'acting up'? And why is he screwing with his parents? What initially appears to be simply a case of a child feeling left out due to a new arrival in the famly quickly becomes something much, mcuh worse. Is Joshua evil? He's definitely wrong. Very, very wrong.

Partly because of the sound, and partly because of the natural, realistic pace of events, Joshua feels more like a horrible family drama than a horror film. And it is, at least on the surface. Things start to really get going towards the end of the film only to...stop. Which is frustrating, although as an ending it does work. I could have kept watching it for another half an hour though, easily.

JOSHUA is an 'evil kid' horror film but pisses all over similiar films because it never gets stupid or nonsensical or unrealistic. Joshua's motives might be a bit muddy, and the idea that it takes his sister's arrival to make him decide to act weird are the main quibbles with this film, but otherwise that's all.

Did I mention it stars SAM ROCKWELL?

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